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Rising virus cases slow down vax drive in Portland

Published:Friday | January 14, 2022 | 12:09 AMGareth Davis Sr/Gleaner Writer


SIMILAR TO the rest of the island, the northeastern parish of Portland has been experiencing a surge in COVID-19 cases since late December, a situation health authorities believe was driven by an increase in social events and festivities during the Christmas season.

The parish’s chief medical officer, Dr Sharon Lewis, said that the spike began in the last week of December and has continued into the new year.

While the spike is believed to be driven by the highly transmissible Omicron variant, which a visitor to the island reportedly tested positive for upon returning to the United Kingdom several weeks ago, its presence is yet to be officially confirmed in Jamaica.

“The spread of this transmissible variant could be a contributing factor to the sharp rise in cases,” Lewis said.

“As at the 11th of January, there were 192 laboratory cases of COVID-19 for 2022. This is a 146 per cent increase over the 78 cases in December 2021. As at January 11, we were at 2,681 [total cases confirmed by lab tests since the start of the pandemic],” she added, urging more people to get vaccinated.

Lewis noted that the weekly positivity rate moved from less than three per cent at the end of November to 35.5 per cent by the end of December.

“Indications are that with the sharp rise in cases since the start of this year, the weekly positivity rate is now more than 60 per cent,” she added while addressing the monthly sitting of the Portland Municipal Corporation.

“Our staff have also been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic as well as other conditions, and so there is a delay in our start to the community COVID-19 vaccination interventions for 2022. This will, however, get on the way when the staffing recoups,” Lewis concluded.

Of the parish’s roughly 81,000 residents, 14,128 – or 17.4 per cent of the population – had taken the first dose of a two-course COVID-19 vaccine, while 13,094 residents – or 16.1 per cent – were fully vaccinated.

Additionally, 305 persons have received booster shots.