Keep it locked – MAJ to Gov't on COVID-19 measuresTuesday, May 04, 2021
BY ALICIA DUNKLEY-WILLIS
THE Medical Association of Jamaica (MAJ) is urging the Government to continue the latest round of lockdown measures while warning Jamaicans against dropping their guard because of the present downward trend in COVID-19 cases.
Health authorities last week signalled that a third wave could result in up to 180 deaths weekly.
Jamaicans since March have been subjected to stricter measures, including weekend lockdowns and tighter curfew hours, brought on by a second surge which saw higher numbers of deaths and hospitalisations from the COVID-19 disease.
The latest measures expired yesterday and the Government is expected to make further announcements by today.
Speaking with the Jamaica Observer, MAJ President Dr Andrew Manning said the measures that were taken seemed to have definitely had an effect in terms of the numbers of new cases and the positivity rates, sharing that “definitely within a few weeks of those measures being taken we have seen an improvement in the situation”.
“The international experts, and I believe the World Health Organization as well, suggest that the authorities don't ease up on the regulations until it gets to a five per cent positivity rate and we are not at five per cent yet. And so, we are beseeching the public to still adhere to the measures – it is very important,” Dr Manning appealed.
“One only needs to look and see the situation in other countries. Just look at what is going on in India. Our hearts go out to them but we really want to ensure that we don't get to that kind of situation because the thing with the COVID situation is that things can get out of hand very quickly...
“We think people are fed up and there is fatigue but...we are all in this boat together and we have to do what we have to do – not just to protect ourselves but we have to look out for each other. That is the approach we have to take. I think people need to appreciate that a lot of the things are in our hands because if you have people generally complying with the measures, a simple thing as mask-wearing, then the numbers would come down.”
He added that the take-up of the vaccine by MAJ members was been good. “I can't speak to all the medical personnel but the MAJ doctor take-up was good and I have reports that in some hospitals over 90 per cent of doctors have taken it up, based on our polling of MAJ doctors.
The MAJ has a membership of about 1,200.
Chief Medical Officer Dr Jacquiline Bisasor-McKenzie, worried that young people were generally flouting stay-at-home orders, warned: “Were Jamaica to have a third wave, our starting point is not going to be as low as it was in August last year or even in December of last year. We are going to have higher starting points that are going to result in possibly very, very high rates where we could have the possibility of as much as 10,700 cases in the peak week compared to 4,000 cases in the peak week of the second wave.”
“... It would mean also that there is going to be a severe stress on our beds and where we went up to 716 beds we could be going up to as many as 1,900 beds. Do we have 1,900 beds? We do not. We see what is happening in other countries, hospitals are closing their gates because they do not have oxygen, they do not have beds.
“It can happen to us and now is the time that we have to ensure that we take the precautions, we continue to maintain our restrictions, we decrease exposure, we wear our masks, we keep social distance, we stay at home, we avoid gatherings so we can keep our reproductive rates down, keep our positivity down, keep our hospitalisations down,” the CMO appealed.
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