Sun | Oct 24, 2021

HOTEL CLUSTER

Close to 50 COVID cases found at Hedonism II

Published:Wednesday | August 11, 2021 | 12:10 AM

WESTERN BUREAU: A cluster of COVID-19 cases numbering close to 50 within the last two weeks – the majority discovered in recent days – at the Hedonism II resort in Negril has triggered a wave of concern as health authorities seek to contain what...

WESTERN BUREAU:

A cluster of COVID-19 cases numbering close to 50 within the last two weeks – the majority discovered in recent days – at the Hedonism II resort in Negril has triggered a wave of concern as health authorities seek to contain what could be an explosive situation.

The state of affairs is unfolding as Jamaica’s public health sector wilts under pressure from high levels of COVID-19 admissions across the island amid a third wave of the deadly infection.

Senior medical officer for the parish of Hanover, Dr Kaushal Singh, has admitted he is concerned about the situation.

Noting that two senior public health inspectors and a nurse had been dispatched to the resort town to monitor and ensure compliance at the various hotels in the area, Singh could not confirm news reaching The Gleaner that at least one resort – which our news team has been able to identify the hotel as Hedonism II – has had several staff off the job as a result of the virus.

Among the categories of staff confirmed with the virus are baretenders, entertainment and dining room staff as well as groundskeepers. Several test results are also said to be outstanding.

Singh would also not speak about whether an outbreak at the resort could lead to temporary closure. Instead, he said, his team was ardently working towards securing due diligence among properties in the area.

“It is because we are concerned that is why we have launched an investigation,” he told The Gleaner.

But the hotel workers are not the only reason there should be concern about the Capital of Casual, as at least two visitors recently posted in a popular Facebook group that seven guests at the same resort were forced to isolate after testing positive.

Other guests who had stayed at the resort also tested positive on return to their homeland.

Should wear N95 masks

A medical doctor in the parish next door, Westmoreland, is blaming the possible outbreak to workers being high-risk based on the type of masks being worn by them and the fact they are being exposed to people from all over the world.

“They should be wearing N95 masks and face shields,” said the medic.

Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett made an impassioned appeal to unvaccinated tourism workers, including those in subsectors related to cruise shipping, to get vaccinated on Tuesday.

“Tourism workers must always remember that they are valuable frontline workers who have a critical role to play in restoring the national economy and their own state of well-being. They must, therefore, play their part in helping to overcome the current setback created by the COVID-19 pandemic by taking the vaccine,” said Bartlett.

According to the media release, the minister’s appeal comes against the background of efforts to boost vaccination levels locally and the heightened expectation of the return of cruise shipping to Jamaican ports in a matter of weeks.

“We have been credited for our proactive approach in developing protocols for the tourism industry as well as our resilient corridors and these have enabled the reopening of the tourism sector with a positivity rate of less than 1.0 per cent; it is now time for the cruise subsector to also play its part as we follow a strategic path in reimagining the tourism sector to rebuild faster, stronger and better,” he said.

He outlined that the Ministry of Tourism will be working relentlessly, particularly, in partnership with the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association, the ministries of Health and Local Government in a bid to facilitate the vaccination of tourism workers across the island.

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