Thu | Oct 21, 2021

Cabinet to discuss COVID protocols for Christmas

Published:Friday | November 13, 2020 | 9:21 AM
Health and Wellness Minister, Dr Christopher Tufton.

Romario Scott, Gleaner Writer

A sub-committee of Cabinet will today be meeting to discuss the COVID-19 containment protocols which will govern the fast approaching Christmas season, even as the coronavirus spread continues to trend down nationally. 

Prime Minister Andrew Holness had earlier signalled the possibility that the COVID-19 restrictions could be eased for the celebration of the Yuletide season. 

He said any adjustment would depend on the COVID numbers.

But even as the Government ponders the protocols, Chief Medical Officer, Dr Jacquiline Bisasor-McKenzie, is already warning that an increase in the COVID-19 numbers is likely. 

“If we look at the national picture, the trend remains the same where we do see a trend that is going down but again, I would just want persons to be very, very cautious because we are approaching a season where we may see an increase in the number of cases. 

“We want this trend to go down almost to where we were in July so that if our cases start to rise at the end of November going into the Christmas season, we would be starting off at a very, very low point,” Bisasor-McKenzie said yesterday during a media briefing on the coronavirus hosted by the Ministry of Health and Wellness. 

Currently, the weekly positivity rate of the virus is at 7.2.

With word out that a new vaccine is on its way, which could help to prevent the contraction of the coronavirus, Health and Wellness Minister, Dr Christopher Tufton, has sought to shore up confidence in vaccination and immunisation.

He acknowledged that there was a lot of cynicism surrounding vaccines. 

“The fact is that vaccination has proven to be an undeniable success in the public health toolkit to reduce the burden of infectious diseases,” Tufton said as he pointed out that some major diseases have been eradicated in Jamaica because of vaccines.

“Vaccination as a response to containing the disease cannot be overlooked,” Tufton insisted. 

Jamaica has already made a down payment through the Caribbean Public Health Agency for access to a “safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine” through the COVID-19 global access facility. 

Assistant Director of the Pan American Health Organisation, Dr Jarbas Barbosa de Silva Jr, disclose that by March, countries in the region could get access to a vaccine. 

Approximately 10 per cent of Jamaica’s population is being eyed to be vaccinated in the first instance.

Tufton disclosed yesterday that there is an ongoing effort to create the required cold storage infrastructure to store the vaccine when they become available. 

Already, Pfizer, a big pharmaceutical company, has made it clear that the shots must be thawed from -70 degrees Celsius and injected within five days.

If not, they go bad.

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