Tufton warns of community spread of COVID-19
As the country prepares to move into a new phase of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic – community transmission – Jamaicans are again being urged to do their part by following the established safety protocols and cooperate with health officials conducting contact tracing.
This plea comes from Minister of Health and Wellness Dr Christopher Tufton, who stressed that tackling the community transmission phase “is going to require more from the public in terms of participating in the processes we seek to manage and control the COVID-19 public health threat”.
“It is so important that the public recognise that they have a critical role to play and that they follow the guidelines that are outlined [to reduce their risk of contracting and further spreading COVID-19],” he said, while addressing a digital press conference on Wednesday ().
Tufton reiterated that staying at home, avoiding crowds, frequently washing and sanitising hands, and wearing masks in public are all crucial safety guidelines to which citizens must adhere, “as we seek to manage and overcome this disease”.
“I know the situation can be overwhelming. It’s unusual; it represents almost a new normal, the restrictions are difficult for persons who are accustomed to moving around. It does require some sacrifice, but the truth is, it’s a sacrifice in the interest of each other – your family members, your community and, indeed, your country,” the minister emphasised.
He noted that the Government has been focusing heavily on containment measures in order to reduce the likelihood of community spread beginning too early, because of the “impact and the consequences it will have on our hospital services – our beds, our doctors and our nurses.”
“The truth is, if we had an explosion of cases that required hospital care too early, then the capacity of our public health services to cope would be very difficult and, indeed, I say almost impossible. You just need to look at other countries where they have had surges, where patients cannot get ventilators, cannot get hospital beds, even in some very developed countries,” Tufton pointed out.
He explained that the plan has always been to use the restrictions to minimise, in the first instance, imported cases; then, to contain, through contact tracing, quarantining and isolation, the inevitability of community spread, where the virus becomes more widespread across the country in terms of people contracting the virus from others and not knowing that they have it, because they may be asymptomatic and not knowing where it has come from.
“We want the Jamaican people to start adjusting their minds to what community transmission and community spread is and what the implications are for them, for us in public health, what their role needs to be and what are some of the adjustments and changes that are going to be necessary when we declare that we are now in community spread, because it’s a different management mechanism that has to be put in place,” Tufton said.
“If we are to beatCOVID-19, it is now more important than ever to recognise that everyone counts and that you must ‘tan ah yuh yaad’, and keep your distance. It is critical that we all play our part,” he added.