Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, is warning that a major spike in cases of coronavirus (COVID-19) will place Jamaica’s health sector under severe stress, and the Government will have to make some tough decision in terms of treatment and care.
As such, he is emphasising the need for persons to stay home if they are feeling ill, wear protective gear in public places and maintain social distancing, in order to prevent community spread of the virus.
“We don’t want to have to make the decision that other countries have had to make, of who lives and who dies, who gets on a ventilator and who doesn’t, who gets a bed and who doesn’t.
“But if our citizens don’t act responsibly, then that is the burden that would be thrust upon the Government to determine your life, when you can literally determine the outcome of your life, by being responsible,” the Prime Minister said.
He was addressing a digital press conference from Jamaica House on Tuesday (April 14).
Mr. Holness said that COVID-19 is a “dreadful disease”, which has taken many lives, and the prevalence of non-communicable diseases (NCD) in the society makes the population particularly vulnerable to the worst impacts of the virus.
“Obesity, diabetics, heart conditions, respiratory conditions, hypertension – all of those are prevalent in our society, and so the uncontrolled spread of this disease, in addition to all those health conditions, will place our health system under severe stress,” he noted.
Within the last 24 hours, there have been 32 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Jamaica bringing the total to 105.
The major jump is related to an outbreak at the Alorica Jamaica business process outsourcing (BPO) entity in Portmore, St. Catherine, of which 31 of the 32 new cases, over the last 24 hours, are linked to one previously confirmed case at the facility.
The Prime Minister pointed out that with so many people infected from one case, the potential for community spread is great.
“Technically, you can be looking at as many as 1,000 persons contacted in close proximity. The effect of that is very great and, therefore, the measure that we have to put in place is one that would seek to contain and slow the spread of the virus in a particular geographic area,” he said.
Mr. Holness noted there has been geographic information system (GIS) mapping of the addresses of the infected persons, which indicates a cluster around St. Catherine, Kingston and St. Andrew.