Tufton: Oxygen shortage not due to lack of planning
Pointing to a high global demand for medical-grade oxygen, Health and Wellness Minister Dr Christopher Tufton has said that the local shortage, which caused a major scare and is being blamed for some deaths, is not because of poor planning.
Speaking with The Gleaner as he took to the streets of Hopewell in Hanover yesterday to drum up support for the COVID-19 vaccination campaign, Tufton stressed that the problem was not unique to Jamaica.
“What people don’t recognise ... is that oxygen is a globally short commodity because the world’s capacity has not prepared for this kind of lung-related disease. It’s not a matter of not planning. It’s a matter of it just not being available,” said Tufton.
“We produce medical oxygen here in Jamaica, and under normal circumstances, we would be all right. [In these] extraordinary circumstances, we doubled capacity in preparation but still had to import,” added Tufton.
The health minister further stated that the Government would continue to monitor the situation and take necessary steps to try and stave off such a crisis recurring but noted that a longer-term solution would take some time.
Pressed as to what specific measures were being undertaken to ensure an adequate oxygen supply across the sector, Tufton dodged the question and instead stated that the Government can’t control the variables if Jamaicans won’t adhere to the protocols to contain the spread of the virus.
“I offer no guarantees except to say if people are vaccinated, they wear their mask, if they social distance, we can overcome this quite quicker and are less likely to demand these things,” he responded.
He also refused to entertain questions about the decision by the Government to relax measures in July and allow large entertainment events, which many persons are blaming for the ballooning coronavirus cases.
“I am here to look forward not backward. Right now, we have a problem. We need Jamaicans vaccinated. We have the vaccines, and we have to promote that,” said Tufton.
“This is the next stage of the community activation, wherein we are taking the get-vaccinated message to the people, in their communities, in the constituencies in the parishes,” the minister explained.