Minister of Health and Wellness, Dr. Christopher Tufton, says there is no “magic wand” to wave off the threat of the coronavirus (COVID-19), and Jamaicans will have to abide by the health and safety protocols in order to protect themselves, their families and communities against the disease.
“The coronavirus is going to be around for a very long time,” Dr. Tufton said while addressing residents of Bottom Town in Clark’s Town, Trelawny during a sensitisation walk on Friday (July 24).
“The message I have taken here today is that COVID-19 is still here in Jamaica, right here in Clark’s Town right across the length and breadth of Jamaica; in the parishes in the communities and we have to learn to live with it,” he noted.
Dr. Tufton had led a team from the Ministry to Bottom Town, which has two imported cases of COVID-19, prompting health officials to move in quickly to protect the community.
He said reports had reached the Ministry that the infected persons had not been observing the health and safety protocols and were, therefore, putting others at risk. They have since been removed from the area and are in isolation at a government facility.
“The sensitisation walk today became necessary following an assessment by the medical team that the information we were getting warranted an intervention. We felt that we needed to come in because the affected persons were said to be going through the community, going to functions and interacting with people,” the Minister noted.
“It was the belief by the Ministry of Health and Wellness team that we should do some surveillance; interact with citizens… do some samplings, do some temperature checks, and gather information and then make a determination to see to what extent, if any, there has been any spread in the community,” he added.
Dr. Tufton said that more community sensitisations will be done to educate Jamaicans about the “stark realities surrounding the COVID-19”.
“People need to understand that once we have detected the presence of COVID, we are going to have to come in as health teams and we are going to have to cordon off a section of the community, visit all of the homes, and do the surveillance. It is a lot of work, and many times it could be avoided if persons respect and abide by the protocols. We cannot overemphasise the need to stick to the protocols, as it is going to become the new norm,” the Minister stressed.
Medical Officer of Health at the Trelawny Health Department, Dr. Diahann Dale, said that there are 10 known cases of COVID-19 in the parish.
“Two are almost recovered but are still in isolation. The others have all recovered… and for some time now,” she noted.
Urging residents of the parish to adhere to the protocols, the Medical Officer said that some persons are “behaving as if the danger of spreading the virus has been averted and have been exhibiting irresponsible if not reckless behaviour”.
“We must acknowledge that with the opening of the country’s borders… we are having growing numbers of imported cases of COVID-19 and so the risk of infection has actually heightened,” she noted.