Wed | Nov 25, 2020

Spanish Town mayor wants COVID-19 field hospital

Published:Friday | October 9, 2020 | 12:09 AMRuddy Mathison/Gleaner Writer
Two children collect COVID-19 information sheets as health ministry personnel walked the streets of Waterford in St Catherine on Wednesday, spreading awareness on the outbreak.
Two children collect COVID-19 information sheets as health ministry personnel walked the streets of Waterford in St Catherine on Wednesday, spreading awareness on the outbreak.

Spanish Town Mayor Norman Scott is calling for a field hospital to be erected in St Catherine as the parish experiences an uptick in COVID-19 cases.

He made the call against the background that the parish’s chief public health officer, Grayson Hutchinson, bemoaned a general disregard for infection-prevention protocols by some residents and warned that cases could continue to rise.

Delivering the medical officer of health’s report at yesterday’s meeting of the St Catherine Municipal Corporation, the mayor pointed out that for the seven-day period up to Wednesday, October 7, St Catherine had recorded 1,670 cases of the coronavirus, with 238 being active.

St Catherine has the second-highest number of COVID-19 cases in the island, following behind the Kingston and St Andrew region, which, up to Wednesday, accounted for 2,730 of the island’s 7,273 cases since March.

One hundred and twenty-eight Jamaicans have died from the virus, with the health ministry listing 10 others and coincidental deaths, and another 14 are said to be under investigation.

On Tuesday, the Government moved to curtail the spread of the deadly virus in Waterford, St Catherine, and Whitfield Town, Kingston, by increasing the number of hours the communities are under curfew.

“Waterford is of major concern to us because that is where we are seeing most of the cases after we carried out widespread testing in the community last Sunday,” public health officer Hutchinson reported.

He said there was renewed focus by the health department in Waterford – which had recorded more than 20 cases and three deaths in recent days – along with some other communities, which he was reluctant to name.

The mayor said the report was frightening, and with only two hospitals in the parish, which has the second-largest population in the country, a COVID-19 field hospital was badly needed.

“Can’t see how Kingston, with more hospital beds, can get such a facility and St Catherine, with less hospital beds, is unable to get one,” Scott said.

The island’s first COVID-19 hospital, a gift from the United States, was erected on the grounds of the National Chest Hospital in St Andrew late last month. It is one of at least four the Government has planned for the island, having announced its intention to erect a second for the Corporate Area at St Joseph’s Hospital, one at the Falmouth Hospital in Trelawny, and another at the Mandeville Regional Hospital in Manchester.

During the meeting, councillors paid tribute to former Old Harbour North Division Councillor Audley Campbell, who died on the weekend from complications associated with COVID-19.

Scott called on his colleagues to encourage their constituents to observe the COVID-19 protocols.

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