Tue | Jan 26, 2021

COVID-19 spread inevitable – health minister

Published:Saturday | March 14, 2020 | 12:00 AMChristopher Thomas/Gleaner Writer


Health and Wellness Minister Dr Christopher Tufton says that the community spread of COVID-19 was expected because of the difficulty of tracking people who have been exposed to the novel coronavirus, even as he insists that there is no need for panic.

Speaking to business stakeholders at the Montego Bay Convention Centre in St James on Friday, Tufton explained that containment of the virus would be affected by the number of persons who have come in contact with infected individuals. So far, Jamaica has recorded eight confirmed cases of COVID-19.

“Part of the plan was containment, which means that once you have an imported case, you try and contain that case as much as possible to minimise the potential for community spread. That effort is very challenging because once you have persons coming in with the virus, they interact with a few persons, and if any of those persons eventually get the virus, you have to trace the people that those persons interacted with,” said Tufton.

“We anticipate that community spread is inevitable, given the number of imported cases, and we’ve developed a programme to deal with that.”

The suspension of schools and the discouraging of public gatherings were intended to minimise spread of SARS-CoV-2, but “everybody has to play a part and make some sacrifices,” Tufton added.

Of Jamaica’s eight recorded COVID-19 cases, two had close contact with Patient 0, the first person confirmed with the novel coronavirus infection on Tuesday.

Tufton stressed that while there is fear of COVID-19, for which more than 125,000 infections and 5,000-plus deaths have been recorded worldwide to date, there is no need for persons to overreact.

“The virus is not a death sentence, and I want to emphasise it because I know there’s a lot of panic in the society,” the health minister said.

“While I believe persons should be concerned, the concern is there for us to take appropriate precautions, but not to run so scared that we end up doing things that don’t help the situation, like buying out all hand sanitisers.”