Wed | May 27, 2020

PNP’s Guy bashes Gov’t over low virus testing

Published:Wednesday | April 1, 2020 | 12:28 AM
Dr Morais Guy, opposition spokesperson on health.
Dr Morais Guy, opposition spokesperson on health.

The People’s National Party is dissatisfied with the number of COVID-19 tests being carried out by the country’s health ministry, arguing that there are gaps in the apparatus that could be presenting misleading numbers to the public.

The party’s spokesman on health, Dr Morais Guy, recommended that the Government ramp up testing and place particular emphasis on all quarantined people, as well as those who have had direct or indirect contact with others who have tested positive for the disease.

“We would also encourage the Government to change the protocol to now test persons who have been in contact but who have not exhibited any symptoms at all. Because we are now well aware by the scientific data that persons who have no symptoms can shed the virus,” Guy said yesterday in a digital press conference.

Guy, a medical doctor, is also pushing for health workers to be tested every two weeks.

“Let the country have a true picture of the extent of the infection and, hopefully, that will influence some of the behavioural change we are seeking.

“Our people out there are saying that ‘if we have only 36 confirmed cases ... , those numbers are so low that it will not affect me,’” the health spokesman said, adding that warnings about social distancing would go in vain if a more aggressive testing regimen was not implemented.

Guy bashed the health ministry’s move of doing random testing in companies, labelling that move as “misguided”.

He presented data, he said, that was proof that enough tests were not being done.

Barbados, he said, test one in every 1,400 people while Trinidad and Tobago assessed one in every 2,870.

“Here in Jamaica, we have only been testing one in every 11,070 persons. So early, even from that perspective, we see that we need to ramp up our testing if we are to have a true picture of the pandemic,” Guy said.

Health and Wellness Minister Dr Christopher Tufton said on Monday that 362 samples have been tested for COVID-19. Thirty-six have returned a positive. One man, a 79-year-old, has died.

romario.scott@gleanerjm.com