COVID community quarantines off the table
Portland records a third of annual cases in seven days
The Jamaican Government has tossed the strategy of imposing quarantines on COVID-19 hotspots as redundant and useless as the sixth week of an unprecedented wave of infections sweeps the country.
That is the diagnosis of Health and Wellness Minister Dr Christopher Tufton, who said in an interview on Sunday that such measures were “no longer relevant” in the current phase of community spread.
The island crossed the threshold of 30,000 cases on Saturday, but the parish of Portland, which recently had the lowest aggregate number of infections, has recorded transmission at incomparable rates.
For the seven-day period up to Friday, March 12, Portland tallied 273 cases, which represent 32 per cent, or almost a third, of its 853 infections dating back to a year ago. Eighteen more cases were added on Saturday.
That spike is a source of despair for Medical Officer of Health Dr Sharon Lewis, who said sufficient public education had been spearheaded by the Ministry of Health and Wellness to sensitise the population about the ravages of the pandemic.
She has blamed the runaway infections on the hosting of illegal parties and scant disregard for social-distancing and other protocols.
“The police will tell you that persons simply travel with mask in their pockets, and when they are questioned about not wearing face masks, it is suddenly pulled from the pocket. But as soon as they reach down the road, the mask goes back into the pocket,” Lewis told The Gleaner on Sunday.
“Until we become more responsible and see the need to observe the basic protocols of washing hands, social distancing, and wearing a mask, then the figures will continue to rise.”
Twelve Portland residents have died from the virus. Jamaica has recorded 486 deaths.
Portland Western Member of Parliament Daryl Vaz has described the parish’s rate of transmission as frightening.
He urged Portlanders to hold themselves accountable by taking responsibility for their actions.
“I am making a passionate appeal for everyone to play it safe by adhering to the protocols of washing hands, wearing a face mask, and social distancing. It is a frustrating period for everyone, but to breach the curfew order by attending illegal parties and other events is only putting your own lives at risk,” Vaz said.