Westmoreland sees dramatic fall in COVID casesFriday, October 15, 2021
BY ROCHELLE CLAYTON
SAVANNA-LA-MAR, Westmoreland — After experiencing a frightening third wave of the novel coronavirus pandemic, this parish is now seeing a drastic reduction in its COVID-19 cases, according to data from the Ministry of Health and Wellness, and local health officials are doing their best to keep it that way.
As of Tuesday, Westmoreland had recorded 75 confirmed cases of COVID-19 since the start of October, a dramatic plunge from the 302 cases seen for the comparable period in September.
Head of the Westmoreland Public Health Services, Novlin Leslie-Little, has attributed the falling cases to her team's effectiveness in amplifying virus prevention measures across the parish. She has also credited measures put in place by the Government to restrict movement.
“The measures put in place by the Westmoreland Public Health Services to slow the spread of COVID-19 in the parish have been working,” Leslie-Little told the Jamaica Observer.
“[Our] media platforms and external stakeholders continue to disseminate information about the COVID-19 protocols, the vaccination programme and to address frequently asked questions. And there are continuous surveillance activities, which include COVID-19 testing and contact tracing,” Leslie-Little explained.
She also pointed to the positive impact of minimising the movement of people, long touted as an effective way to curb transmission of the novel coronavirus.
“Restriction of movement in the parish due to the implementation of the no-movement days and curfew hours have also played a significant role,” said Leslie-Little.
During his first contribution to the State of the Constituency Debate in the House of Representatives recently, Member of Parliament (MP) for Westmoreland Western, Morland Wilson, lauded the parish's health-care professionals, residents, and stakeholders for their continued efforts in fighting the deadly virus.
“Over the past [nine] months, Westmoreland became the epicentre for the COVID-19 virus. We will recall in January 2021, Westmoreland had one of the highest infection rates in the country, warranting a special two weeks' curfew,” said the MP.
“And in July 2021, during the infamous third wave, the parish was again under the microscope, with our numbers being amongst the highest in the country. However, in all those circumstances, with united leadership, the people of Westmoreland conformed and brought down the numbers,” Wilson added.
In a bid to keep the number of COVID-19 cases in the parish on the decline, Leslie-Little said her team will continue to educate residents about the dangers of the virus, while encouraging them to get vaccinated.
“There is a long-term push to keep the downward trend of the number of COVID-19 cases in the parish. These include intensifying an active surveillance system which involves COVID-19 testing and contact tracing, health education and promotion, vaccination, and compliance of establishments to the COVID-19 protocols guided by the Disaster Risk Management Act,” Leslie-Little told the Observer.
With some 40,825 doses of COVID-19 vaccines administered in Westmoreland since the start of the country's vaccination drive on March 10 this year, Leslie-Little pointed out that as more residents get vaccinated, the parish will see a further decline in cases of the virus because these vaccinated people act as “ambassadors” and go on to encourage their loved ones to also take the jab.
“The COVID-19 vaccination drives increase the accessibility of the vaccines to the public, through outreaches, fixed sites and blitz activities across the parish. In addition, it enhances the opportunity of drive-up services and home visits for persons that are physically challenged,” added Leslie-Little.