Don't turn away COVID patients, Tufton urgesMonday, March 08, 2021
KINGSTON, Jamaica — Hospitals are being urged not to turn away patients who present with symptoms of COVID-19, desperate for help.
There have been reports over the past few weeks of patients being turned away or referred to other institutions, as hospital bed spaces disappear as the country plunges even further into the COVID-19 crisis, blamed on widespread incidents of wanton disregard for the safety measures and protocols.
“The instructions to public health institutions is to not turn away anyone...even if you have to triage, and assess under a tree in the parking lot, we should do that. I understand the perspective of the health care professional, I know it's a difficult time, but such is the nature of the job and for the overwhelming (number) of (them) they understand that and they are willing. What I would ask on the part of the Jamaican people is to exercise some patience and understanding, because there is so much capacity and no more,” Dr Tufton stated this evening at a Jamaica House press conference following the anxiously-awaited arrival of 50,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines from India, the island's first batch.
He stressed that people should expect longer waiting times given the current exponential spike in COVID-19 cases. Thirteen of 22 hospitals across the island are now in the red alert zone, which means that there is now more than 84 per cent occupation of their isolation capacity. Twelve of those 13 facilities are at 100 per cent capacity occupancy, he advised.
Cornwall Regional, Annotto Bay, Port Maria, Mandeville, Kingston Public, Princess Margaret, Percy Junor, St Ann's Bay, Mandeville, May Pen Ann's Bay, National Chest and Spanish Town hospitals, as well as the University Hospital of the West Indies, have all exceeded their capacity to house patients who need to be isolated.
Dr Tufton noted that daily hospital admissions had catapulted from 49 for the week of February 22, to 56 for the week of March 1.
At the same time, there is now evidence that the UK variant strain of the virus, which came to light in January, is present in the Jamaican population and could have contributed to the rate of spread.
Results returned on March 6, from samples sent to CARPHA in January have turned up seven positives for the strain, Dr Tufton revealed.
He stressed that this strain requires the same safety measures as the regular strain of COVID-19.
“Given the widespread disregard for protocols, the non-wearing of masks, the crowded situations, the illegal parties and social gatherings across the island, and increasing symptomatic cases, all of this combined could be contributing to the rate of spread in the population,” Dr Tufton said.
The Government is now moving to source $60 million worth of equipment to outfit the national public health lab with the capacity to test for the UK variant.
Additionally, the health minister said there is concern about the increasing number of workplace clusters of the virus. The Kingston and St Andrew Health Department is now managing 46 workplace clusters.
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