Tufton rejects accusation of bungling third waveFriday, September 10, 2021
Health and Wellness Minister Dr Christopher Tufton has rejected criticisms that the Government has bungled the management of the third surge of novel coronavirus cases that has gripped the country over the past several weeks.
“We have a plan, we have always had a plan. We forecast and anticipated what decision came with what risk, and what is to be done to mitigate against those risks. I want to reject any assertion that somehow we have been wandering in the dark over the past 16 months, stopping leaking holes, as if we do not have capacity, and have not applied that capacity to understand the nature of an unfolding virus. There is no playbook for it, and we have utilised the significant expertise that we have, drawing on assistance from multilaterals and people on the ground,” Dr Tufton argued during yesterday's COVID Conversations press briefing, stressing that the Government could not risk losing the confidence of the population.
“We have always provided information around where we are, where we are going, [and] what will happen if certain assumptions are made. And we have always provided our best advice to the population,” he added.
He pointed out that over the past few weeks the ministry has borne the brunt of harsh criticism about preparations for the third wave of the virus, facing added stress as it sought to navigate the pressures and the daily operational needs of the public health system.
Hospital wards have been bursting at the seams with COVID-19 patients, triggering fear and criticisms from some segments of society that the Government was to blame for the crisis, based on its decision made at the start of the summer to reopen the entertainment sector.
At the same time, the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) this week issued an advisory against travelling to Jamaica, and other countries, due to the exponential spike in cases of the virus.
But Dr Tufton insisted that there is hope, notwithstanding the current renewed COVID-19 crisis concerns.
“There is reason to be hopeful. We are not in the dark spinning around as if we don't know what we are doing. We are making our best efforts to provide leadership at all levels,” he stressed.
He pointed to the emerging results from the lockdown measures that have been implemented over the past two weeks.
“The logical follow on to that will be a reduction in hospitalisation and will then allow us the opportunity to restore some sort of normality,” he said.
Dr Tufton added that in order to realise more vaccine uptake, the Government has engaged private sector entities, private hospitals, church organisations, pharmacies, and doctors' offices to participate in the COVID-19 vaccination programme.
“The initiative will seek to expand access for different clients to be able to receive vaccination while shopping or visiting their doctor,” he said.
— Alphea Sumner