WHO, US Gov't praise Jamaica's COVID-19 responseWednesday, March 18, 2020
BY VERNON DAVIDSON
THE Jamaican Government's response to the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak is being praised by the World Health Organization (WHO) and America's top diplomat in the island.
The commendations came yesterday as the island completed work on a COVID-19 isolation ward at University Hospital of the West Indies (UHWI) and the same day that Prime Minister Andrew Holness and Health and Wellness Minister Dr Christopher Tufton announced new measures — including crowd restrictions to no more than 20 people, the closure of bars, nightclubs, and other entertainment venues — designed to stem the spread of the virus.
“Thank you so much for your leadership — and preparedness — for #COVID19, @christufton. #Jamaica Being ready for #coronavirus is key to pushing it back fast. Together, for a safer world!,” WHO Director General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus posted on Twitter.
Equally, United States Ambassador to Jamaica Donald Tapia said in a tweet: “We want to congratulate the GoJ and the MoHW for its timely reporting of COVID-19 cases and aggressive containment strategy. The MoHW (Ministry of Health and Wellness) has shown that one of the best defenses is appropriate public sensitization on preventative methods and the importance of early case recognition.”
On Monday, hours before he and the prime minister announced the new measures at a news conference at Jamaica House, Dr Tufton had highlighted work on the UHWI isolation ward on his Twitter page.
“The features of the room include a bed, ventilators, monitoring mechanisms — cameras so you can actually observe the patients from [a] remote location, [namely] the nurses' station, plus to give the indication as to when the medical personnel have to go into the room to interact with the patient,” Tufton said in the post.
“So it's going to be fully equipped to provide the measures that are necessary to isolate the patient, and not put the medical staff at risk, and give the patient the best possible chance of recovery,” he added.
When the Jamaica Observer visited the isolation ward on Monday afternoon, the final touches on the renovation were being made. The facility has 13 beds, five of which are in cubicles equipped with ventilators for patients in need of respiratory assistance. A sanitiser station is also placed at a central spot for easy access.
Dr Tufton told the Observer later at Jamaica House that while other hospitals have one or two rooms, they have been asked to establish a similar ward and work is in progress.
He also reiterated that the measures, which will last for seven days starting today, include reducing crowds at day and outpatient clinics.
“We believe that it is part of the measures to restrict the possibility of the virus spreading. The idea therefore, over the next seven days, is to encourage as many Jamaicans as possible to stay at home,” he said, adding, “if you're ill, you have some numbers that you can call and we encourage you to call those numbers. They are 888-754-7792, or 888-663-5683, 876-542-5998, 876-542-6007, and 876-542-6006.