Opposition slams Gov't over its handling of COVID-19 crisisThursday, March 18, 2021
BY ARTHUR HALL
AS the island continues to see a spike in the number of COVID-19 cases and related deaths, the Opposition People's National Party (PNP) has stepped up its criticisms of the Government over its handling of the pandemic.
Yesterday, the Ministry of Health reported 821 new COVID-19 cases in the previous 24 hours and a one-day record of 13 deaths. The ministry noted that since the first case was recorded on March 10 last year Jamaica has confirmed 32,728 positive cases with 16,513 now active.The island has also recorded 507 COVID-related deaths.
Addressing a media briefing a short while before the latest numbers were released yesterday, Opposition spokesman on health, Dr Morais Guy, ripped into the Andrew Holness Administration for what he said were its missteps in dealing with the crisis.
Guy pointed to the health ministry's figure of 371 people hospitalised, having tested positive for the virus but charged that there was about an equal number in hospital beds who are suspected of being COVID-19 positive.
“So we have taken out 700 hospital beds in this country for COVID cases, a situation that could have been prevented, a situation that had the Government taken proper control of the pandemic from early could have been prevented and many deaths could have been prevented,” declared Guy.
“The shortage of oxygen that we are having now could have been prevented, because essentially what has happened is that no one thought, no one planned despite earlier on in the pandemic when we were advised by the epidemiologist out of the Ministry of Health that there was a certain percentage of those who got infected who would have to be admitted to hospital, and five per cent of those admitted would need ICU facilities.
“The Government said that they planned for it and they were projecting that over a million persons would have been infected with COVID,” added Guy.
He charged that rather than planning, the Government was engaged in public relations and trying to hoodwink the Jamaican people into thinking, “that they have the pandemic under control”.
“But as night follows day, whatever is hidden is going to be revealed and the death numbers are showing that, the challenges we have in the hospitals now are showing that, the débâcle that we saw with the vaccinations and those who got vaccines who were never in the priority group that was intended by the ministry,” Guy said.
He told the media briefing that the Opposition is concerned that health sector is facing a real crisis and the Government has not demonstrated that it is up to par to deal with it.
According to Guy, as a responsible Opposition the PNP has been making suggestions to deal with the pandemic, but the Government has not been taking those on board immediately and only implementing some when it is too late.
Guy charged that the greatest numbers of people dying from COVID-19 in Jamaica are from the poorer class and this could have been avoided.
“There are many things the Government ought to have done and one of them was that there was no planning in place. So what we ought to do now, in response to the oxygen crisis, is to get the Government to engage, not only the private distributor, but also to seek to get oxygen into this country by other means
“As it relates to the numbers in hospital, it is a situation which is tricky, but the reality is people get sick simply because they do not protect themselves and others from contracting COVID-19,” said Guy as he urged the Government to stricter enforce the measures introduced to prevent the spread of the virus.
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