Fri | Dec 4, 2020

CMO warns against COVID mask complacency

Published:Friday | June 12, 2020 | 12:26 AM

The country’s most senior medical officer on Thursday warned Jamaicans to avoid complacency on observing COVID-19 protocols as officials have become worried about an apparent fall-off in the number of people wearing face masks.

Already, Jamaican nationals have been entering the island following a reopening of the borders on June 1.

Tourists are expected to begin streaming in as of next Monday.

Both sets of travellers will be subjected to coronavirus testing on arrival.

“In the management of any outbreak, we spend a lot of time sensitising and increasing awareness, and despite all the different measures, there comes a point in time when the public starts to become desensitised; they start to revert to normal,” Chief Medical Officer Jacquiline Bisasor-McKenzie said during a digital press conference on Thursday evening.

But the CMO cautioned against complacency at this critical junction in the COVID-19 fight as various sectors of the economy are reopened.

“… The outbreak is not over. It is not over! And this is the most critical point as we make changes in how we manage because with new populations coming in, there [are] risks of exposure,” the CMO warned.

Health Minister Dr Christopher Tufton also lamented the growing aloofness to coronavirus warnings.

“As it relates to the wearing of masks, it is a concern. We have to get Jamaicans to appreciate that a big part of confronting this health threat is personal responsibility,” Tuton said.

“The virus is still very much out there, still represents a threat, particularly to persons with underlying conditions.”

Under the Disaster Risk Management Act, the Government has ordered the wearing of masks in public places and spaces.

“Part of it is we seem to have become victims of our own successes. We have done fairly well in terms of controlling the virus, and some persons have interpreted it to mean that the virus is no longer a threat,” Tufton said yesterday.

“That would be a mistake,” he added.

The health minister also reiterated that the Government would no longer establish a field hospital at the National Stadium to house COVID-19 patients.

Tufton said that the money could be better spent in retrofitting a facility at an established hospital.

The minister did not give details on which hospital was chosen.

Jamaica recorded six new coronavirus cases yesterday, bringing the overall tally to 611.

That comprises five women and one man aged 38 to 63 years.

The patients recently returned on flights from the United States and the United Kingdom.

Meanwhile, there was one recovery yesterday, pushing those numbers to 408.

romario.scott@gleanerjm.com