The Ministry of Health and Wellness is currently in negotiations to receive more funds to be used for the country’s coronavirus (COVID-19) response activities.
This was disclosed by Permanent Secretary in the Health Ministry, Dunstan Bryan, during a digital press conference, on Wednesday (April 29).
“We are now in negotiations with the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service for additional sums to be made available to the Ministry for the next six months, and that negotiation is ongoing,” he said.
The Ministry of Health and Wellness was initially provided with approximately $2.8 billion for the COVID-19 response.
“As at today’s date, we have utilised approximately $2.5 billion of that amount, and so we have a balance of about $300 million that is to be utilised for the support of our activities going forward,” the Permanent Secretary said.
Turning to the Government’s plans to retrofit the National Arena as a 72-bed field hospital to treat with COVID-19 patients, Bryan said the Ministry is currently in negotiations with a contractor to undertake the project.
“We have utilised our emergency contract procedures… and that negotiation is to come to some finality by next week Wednesday, at which time we will have a public signing,” he informed.
The Permanent Secretary further informed that negotiations have been concluded with the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) to undertake the role of technical supervisor of the contract.
The scope of work will include electrical connection for medical equipment and general support services, increase in water storage capacity from 8,000 gallons to 14,000 gallons, temporary backup power supply, temporary outdoor bathroom and shower facilities for patients, chain-link fence at the rear of the facility for security, and the acquisition of medical equipment and furniture.
To be financed at a cost of $182 million, the field hospital will be used as an isolation facility for confirmed COVID-19 patients with mild symptoms.