Sat | Sep 23, 2023

CMO: Eight weeks to peak week

Published:Saturday | March 14, 2020 | 12:05 AMJudana Murphy/Gleaner Writer
Jacquiline Bisasor-McKenzie, chief medical officer.
Jacquiline Bisasor-McKenzie, chief medical officer.

The Jamaican Government is working to expedite the delivery of vital hospital equipment in anticipation that COVID-19, the infections disease caused by the novel coronavirus, will peak here in about eight weeks.

This is based on modelling projections of 400 critical-care cases over a one-year period, with a peak week of 11 additional persons.

“Our estimation is that once we start having local spread, that it will take us about eight weeks to get to the peak week, and so we are hoping that we will get the things that we need in time, but we are preparing our staff in terms of the training that is needed to be able to operate under those conditions,” said Jacquiline Bisasor-McKenzie, Jamaica’s chief medical officer, said yesterday.

Bisasor-McKenzie was addressing journalists at a Gleaner Editors’ Forum at the newspaper’s North Street, Kingston, offices.

There have been two confirmed imported cases of COVID-19 in Jamaica.

Bisasor-McKenzie conceded that there was a shortage of critical-care beds in the public sector, which was compounded by limited specialist staff. Currently, there are between 25 to 35 intensive care beds in the public health sector.

The ministry has identified 36 high-dependency areas within the Programme for the Reduction of Maternal and Child Mortality (PROMAC) project.

Forty beds will be procured, and the remaining four will be placed at the National Chest Hospital.

Delivery of equipment is expected within two months.

From the $7-billion funding that has been earmarked for the local COVID-19 response, the ministry is reportedly spending “heavily” on the importation of high-dependency beds, ventilators, monitors, infusion pumps, and other resources needed to support high-dependency patients. Bisasor-McKenzie did not disclose a price tag.

The CMO said that the Ministry of Health and Wellness had not considered the possibility of having a mass quarantine facility as the ministry intends to manage patients in existing hospitals if and when Jamaica begins to have local transmission.

“Our plan to do this is that we’ve asked each hospital to identify one ward that we have designated as a COVID ward and to have everybody in the hospital be fully sensitised to the use of this ward ... ,” she said.