Sat | Jun 6, 2020

$180m to retrofit Arena for COVID-19 - T­housands more ­travellers self-­report after lock-up threat

Published:Wednesday | April 8, 2020 | 12:00 AM
A clown gestures outside the National Arena on September 22, 2019. The National Arena will be retrofitted as a field hospital for the potential influx of COVID-19 patients.

The Government is to spend $180 million to retrofit the National Arena to house COVID-19 patients as preparations intensify for community spread of the disease in Jamaica.

Health Minister Dr Christopher Tufton yesterday told the media that the exercise is being undertaken in collaboration with the Ministry of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport.

“Yesterday (Monday), Cabinet approved the use of the national indoor stadium as a field hospital that can cater to up to 72 beds.

“We have started the work to retrofit the facility, which, when completed, will have 72 beds, monitors, and other equipment. That work is being spearheaded by the Jamaica Defence Force,” Tufton said.

According to the health minister, only those who are mildly affected by the disease are being eyed to be treated at the facility when completed in almost three weeks.

There are now 63 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Jamaica.

The minister said the new cases are two 48-year-old women, a 26-year-old man, and a 26-year-old female.

Of the 63 confirmed cases, 30 are imported, 22 import related, and 11 are under investigation.

Nine persons have recovered and have been released from isolation.

Tufton said that about 3,500 people who entered Jamaica on or after March 18 have reported to the health ministry in the last three days. A total of 4,500 travellers have now come forward, out of about 5,400.

The surge follows the Government’s warning that persons who did not report to the ministry could be charged for breaching the Disaster Risk Management Act.

Tufton announced several public-private partnerships, one of which is an effort in which private doctors will treat patients with chronic illnesses, like diabetes and hypertension, who would normally be treated at clinics and other public health facilities.

Additionally, the health ministry will be donating 100,000 N95 masks to private entities.

“In regard to the N95 masks, we recognised there is a supply shortage and have therefore invested US$2.2 million to secure these masks,” Tufton said, while disclosing that some 500,000 masks arrived in the island recently.

romario.scott@gleanerjm.com