Fri | Feb 28, 2020

Jamaica needs to better prepare for Coronavirus – Guy

Published:Wednesday | January 29, 2020 | 10:39 AM
Opposition Spokesperson on Health, Dr Morais Guy - File photo

Romario Scott, Gleaner Writer

Opposition Spokesperson on Health Dr Morais Guy says Tuesday morning’s influenza scare threw Jamaica into panic mode and highlighted the lack of preparedness by the Ministry of Health and Wellness and, by extension, the country.

Reports indicated that a patient, suspected to have had the Coronavirus, was isolated at the University Hospital of the West Indies (UHWI).

At an emergency press conference, Dr Carl Bruce of the UHWI said the patient, who had recently travelled to Asia, has no symptoms of the Coronavirus and should be discharged soon.

Guy, who was speaking in Parliament on Tuesday, charged that Jamaica has to become better prepared.

“The country was jolted and was almost on the stage of panic when there was a report, and the media took it up and other groups took it up, that there was no a confirmed but a suspected case at the University Hospital of the University of the West Indies.

“What happened is that the ministry suddenly recognised that it does not have the resources to deal with something were it to happen in Jamaica at this time,” Guy charged as he criticised the health ministry. 

Earlier, Tufton, who also spoke in Parliament, informed that there will be increased surveillance at the country's ports of entry as Jamaica heightens its vigilance for the Coronavirus and announced that a travel advisory will be issued for travel to and from China. 

READ: Government urges freeze as Coronavirus fears grow in Jamaica

“For persons in transit to Jamaica, our quarantine protocols will be put in place where persons will either be quarantined in facility or at home, depending on the risk assessment done,” Tufton said.

“We have also been maintaining active communication with international health authorities to ensure that Jamaica remains current on international standards and procedures.

“There is also ongoing surveillance of all authorised points of entry into the country to detect ill travellers, with thermal scanners monitored by trained staff and facilities for the identification, quarantine, and isolation of persons as necessary. Once persons are identified, a cascade of activities will be triggered,” Tufton told parliament.

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