Sun | Mar 7, 2021

Manchester, Clarendon, St Bess hospitals running out of space

Published:Tuesday | January 26, 2021 | 12:16 AMJanet Silvera/Senior Gleaner Writer

WESTERN BUREAU:

Nine-nights, wakes and a general disregard of protocols are being blamed for the uptick in the COVID-19 cases in Manchester, leading to tighter curfew hours being instituted yesterday as its public hospitals come under increasing pressure.

The 30 Manchester communities now known to have cases of the virus have been flouting mask-wearing and social-distancing guidelines, Dr Vitillius Holder, regional technical director of the Southern Regional Health Authority (SRHA), told The Gleaner yesterday.

Her comments come in the wake of the red and amber alert that the Percy Junor and Mandeville hospitals are now under as hospitalisations and positivity numbers move the needle up three times the national average rate.

The Mandeville Regional Hospital is at 76 per cent occupancy and Percy Junor at 83 per cent.

“There is the absence of social distancing in the markets, and in the taxis and symptomatic people are not wearing masks in their homes, infecting their relatives. They become relaxed at home, but once there is coughing around, it is important to wear a mask,” Holder cautioned.

She said that despite health ministry teams on the ground sensitising the public to the illness, residents in some communities were not taking the message seriously.

It is hoped that the longer curfew hours, running from 7 p.m. to 5 a.m. over the next two weeks, will flatten the curve.

Health Minister Dr Christopher Tufton said that the parish recorded 125 new cases between January 10 and 24, across the 30 communities, with Mandeville accounting for the highest numbers.

“Manchester accounts for some 11.3 per cent of all confirmed COVID-19 cases in the country in the last two weeks ... ,” he noted, adding that the 27.8 per cent positivity rate for the parish has been the highest for the past two weeks, almost three times the national rate of 10.8 per cent.

St James, St Ann closely monitored

The minister also expressed concerns about the parishes of St James and St Ann, which are also being closely monitored.

Chief Medical Officer (CMO), Dr Jacquiline Bisasor-McKenzie, revealed that the Manchester positive cases were being presented at the health centres, but the danger was the level of exposure across the parish, which is high, especially to the vulnerable population.

She is worried that with the neighbouring Black River and May Pen hospitals both having occupancy levels of over 95 per cent, the spike in cases puts the region at risk.

“The number of hospitalisation will increase, and we will run out of space to put these persons,” she warned.

Jamaica has recorded 15,012 coronavirus cases and 338 deaths.

janet.silvera@gleanerjm.com