Mon | Oct 26, 2020

60+ DANGER - 70% of virus deaths among senior citizens

Published:Friday | September 25, 2020 | 12:16 AMJanet Silvera/Senior Gleaner Writer
Senior citizens represent 70 per cent of COVID-19 deaths.
Senior citizens represent 70 per cent of COVID-19 deaths.

WESTERN BUREAU:

Jamaica’s oldest and most vulnerable account for 70 per cent of deaths from COVID-19.

Fifty-four of the 77 deaths all told have accounted for persons aged 60-99. Overall infections are closing on 5,600.

Ministry of Health and Wellness data show a coronavirus death rate of 28.6 per cent for persons aged 80-99, twenty-six per cent for the cohort between 70 and 79, and 12 per cent in the 60-69 age group.

“The over-60 age group is the group that we would have seen the majority of our deaths. ... It is clear that we must protect this age group; the older you get is the more risk you face,” warned Chief Medical Officer Dr Jacquiline Bisasor-McKenzie during a press briefing at the Ministry of Health and Wellness on Thursday.

“We had 393 persons confirmed as positive in the 60-69 age group,” she noted, with men more likely to die than women.

Some of the elderly didn’t even make it to hospital, and families are being encouraged to seek medical intervention early to help save lives.

“For those over age 80, we would have had 22 deaths in 115 persons who contracted the virus ... so it is very important that we protect these persons,” Bisasor-McKenzie emphasised.

Almost 97 per cent of persons who have been infected have had no or mild symptoms.

In the younger cohorts, there have been far fewer deaths. Seven persons aged 39 or younger have died.

The presence of co-morbidities was blamed in the majority of the aggregate deaths owing to a higher incidence of certain non-communicable illnesses – including diabetes, hypertension, and cardiovascular disease – among the elderly.

However, National Epidemiologist Dr Karen Webster-Kerr argued that while the island’s COVID-19 numbers were still increasing, the slope of the virus was on the decline.

“There is some stabilisation. It means if we continue or we improve our actions as a society, then we could see the flattening of the curve. We would have peaked and started going down from that peak,” she said with cautious optimism.

janet.silvera@gleanerjm.com