Thu | Oct 22, 2020

CMO: No community spread yet, but watch out for silent carriers

Published:Wednesday | May 13, 2020 | 12:25 AM
Tyrick Powell awaits the result from a temperature check by Audrey Hinds-McLeod, one of 70 healthcare workers who conducted house-to-house visits in Dover, St Mary, last Saturday.
Tyrick Powell awaits the result from a temperature check by Audrey Hinds-McLeod, one of 70 healthcare workers who conducted house-to-house visits in Dover, St Mary, last Saturday.

DESPITE NOT being able to say how scores of people contracted the COVID-19 disease, Jamaica’s chief medical officer (CMO) has told a committee of Parliament that the country’s situation has not yet met the medical threshold of community spread.

“With [regard] to community transmission, while it is that we still have not met the criteria – and the criteria that we had outlined some time ago in terms of the unrelated clusters and the number of cases coming out of the surveillance and the numbers of local transmission cases – in our discussion with PAHO/WHO, we are still classified as clustered of cases because you can see that our large number of cases are coming from these large clusters that we have,” Dr Jacquiline Bisasor-McKenzie told the COVID-19 select committee of Parliament yesterday.

Jamaica has so far recorded 507 SARS-CoV-2 infections, with two new cases emerging over the last 24 hours – a 57-year-old woman and a six-year-old boy both from Kingston and St Andrew. One hundred people have recovered from the disease, representing fewer than 20 per cent of those affected.

The country leads the English-speaking Caribbean in raw numbers, but the CMO said that the volume of infections would have been far greater had the slew of restrictions not been imposed.

She said the country has seen a flattening of the curve, which means that cases of COVID-19 are not rising beyond the control of healthcare professionals.

Bisasor-McKenzie said that there “would have been an exponential rise, that would be, for every one person, you would get 2.5 cases”.

“I think that is essential. It is important that we have been able to flatten the curve below our capacity to respond,” she said.

The CMO forecast that the country could expect to record more asymptomatic cases, or silent carriers, of COVID-19.

“From about the middle of April, most of our cases are going to be detected through contact tracing and other case investigation, and so you will notice that most of our cases are going to be lined towards the asymptomatic cases rather than the symptomatic cases,” she said.