Sat | Mar 28, 2020

Bull Bay quarantine to be lifted, but Corn Piece’s maintained

Published:Thursday | March 26, 2020 | 12:27 AMChristopher Serju/Gleaner Writer
Dr Christopher Tufton, minister of health and wellness, addresses a press conference on COVID-19 at Jamaica House on Monday. He hosted a digital briefing on Zoom yesterday.
Dr Christopher Tufton, minister of health and wellness, addresses a press conference on COVID-19 at Jamaica House on Monday. He hosted a digital briefing on Zoom yesterday.

Restrictions will be lifted this Saturday on residents in quarantined sections of Seven Miles and Eight Miles in Bull Bay who have had their communities under lockdown since Friday after contact-tracing concerns linked with Jamaica’s first confirmed case of COVID-19.

However, those in Corn Piece, Clarendon, the community visited by a Jamaica-born New York resident who is this country’s only COVID-19 fatality so far, might not get a similar reprieve since the latest confirmed case of the novel coronavirus is the son-in-law of the 79-year-old man who died. The son-in-law is the country’s 26th confirmed case.

Minister of Health and Wellness Dr Christopher Tufton made the announcement during yesterday’s virtual press conference via Zoom, warning the country that the number of infected persons is likely to rise.

“As we discover these additional cases, it is important for us to appreciate as a country that these are expected under the existing circumstances. I don’t want the Jamaican people to lose hope or feel that we are not making progress even with each positive case that is identified,” the health minister said.

“If you look at the process or the phases of the virus moving from imported to clustering and then what we think will be community spread, it means that you will see more cases.”

clinical assessment

Turning to the community quarantine arrangements for Seven and Eight Miles, the health minister said that the decision to lift the restriction was based on the clinical assessment of when they started and the time required to complete the process.

“To discontinue quarantine arrangements in Bull Bay, the decision has been taken to complete that arrangement on Saturday, 28th of March. And so to the residents of Bull Bay, we ask for their patience until end-of-day Friday, at which point we will resume normality,” Tufton said.

Meanwhile, Chief Medical Officer Dr Jacquiline Bisasor-McKenzie explained that over the next two to three days, the Public Health Department would be completing final checks on persons who have been identified as close or casual contacts to ensure that they are asymptomatic.

“Anybody that would have developed symptoms would then have to be treated differently, so while it is that we do end the quarantine on Saturday, if there are persons who would have developed symptoms, then around those persons there would be different arrangements that would be made,” she advised.

As it relates to the Corn Piece Settlement in southeast Clarendon, the quarantine arrangements will continue, with the health authorities on the ground working with the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, the Jamaica Constabulary Force, and the Jamaica Defence Force still providing critical support.

Tufton explained the rationale for keeping the measures in place.

“We have so far linked one case to the index case in that community. That person is now deceased and links to our 26th confirmatory case, and again, that demonstrates that what we are doing, we think, is correct. We continue to carry out the necessary surveillance,” he said.

Tufton also disclosed that the ministry would be making arrangements to outsource visits to hospitals and health centres from two vulnerable groups – those with chronic hypertension and diabetes, numbering an estimated 70,000 – to private practitioners.

The arrangement, which is projected to cost the Government about J$350 million, will run for about four months in the first instance and will see these patients allowed at least two visits per month to the doctor.

christopher.serju@gleanerjm.com