Jamaica Has 73 COVID-19 Cases; Call Centre Closes; Mobile Testing Ready to Hit the Road


In the past two days, Jamaica has recorded four new cases of COVID-19. Testing has been beefed up, but there are concerns this evening. A second case has been confirmed at a Call Centre in Portmore, St. Catherine, which has closed for 14 days and is sanitizing. I understand that employees in call centres sit quite close together, so “physical distancing” is a challenge. This is quite worrying. I am not sure how many of the employees will be tested, or have been. Note that call centre employees were exempted from the curfew order, as the Government seemed anxious to keep the Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) going. They do employ thousands.

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A file photo of a call centre from the Jamaica Observer. I am not sure if this is in Jamaica.

Speaking of testing, Minister Christopher Tufton today presided over the presentation of 19 Mobile Test Units, to be deployed across the island – a little later than planned! I believe the Ministry aims to roll them out in the South East Regional Health Authority and the North East Regional Health Authority areas. 

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Minister Tufton examines test kits in the Mobile Unit.

In a radio interview yesterday, Minister Tufton said testing can be seen as a “classic case of a panic response” by some countries, and that Jamaica should focus on testing “in a more methodical way.” He said the methodology of testing is just as important as the numbers tested, noting that “vulnerable groups” are tested – front line health workers who are “tested routinely” and all those with respiratory ailments who come into hospitals, whom he called a “control group” – where, he says, there are no positive cases. He said Jamaica has the capacity to take 180 samples per day and additional capacity is being put in place (including the above mobile units).

Here is the updated information from the Ministry of Health and Wellness tonight. I have highlighted the phrase “local transmission cases not epidemiologically-linked.” This seems to suggest “community spread.” 

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The National Influenza Centre has reported that in the last 24 hours, one sample has tested positive for COVID-19. This brings the total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Jamaica to 73.

The new case is a 57 year old male from Kingston & St. Andrew with no travel history, but is a contact of a confirmed case.

On Sunday, three cases were reported:

  • a 65 year old male from St. Elizabeth with no travel history, but who was in contact with tourists. This case remains under investigation.
  • a 53 year old female from Kingston and St. Andrew, with no travel history, but is a contact of a confirmed case.
  • a 17 year old male from St. Ann, with no travel history, but is a contact of a confirmed case.

There are now 31 imported cases, 34 cases are contacts of a confirmed case, 6 are local transmission cases not epidemiologically-linked and 2 cases are under investigation. Some 55% of confirmed cases are male and 45% are female, while the ages of all confirmed cases range from 12 to 87 years old.

The health departments across the island are currently tracing approximately 379 close contacts of the confirmed cases.

The National Influenza Centre has also advised that to date, a total of 1,199 samples have been tested including those for Severe Acute Respiratory Infections (SARI) resulting in 1,121 negative and 73 positive, with five samples pending.

In the meantime, three more patients have recovered and have been released from hospital. This brings the total number of persons recovered and released to 19. Additionally, 66 patients remain in isolation, while 20 persons are in quarantine at a government facility.

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Mobile testing units lined up in Cornpiece Settlement, Clarendon today. (Photo: Ministry of Health and Wellness)

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