Things have been happening very fast this week in Jamaica, in relation to COVID-19. The good people at the Ministry of Health and Wellness have been working incredibly hard and keeping us all updated (although after each press briefing, I feel there are probably about a dozen more questions to be asked).
The last two days have been particularly stressful. The first blow was the discovery that a call centre in Portmore, St. Catherine, has been an incubator for the virus, pushing the number of positive cases up dramatically. This has prompted a “lockdown” of the parish, and calls by some for all the 68 call centres in Jamaica to be closed. But that is for another discussion.
Now, late this evening (Thursday, April 16) we received the news that an employee at the Ministry itself has tested positive. Tonight, Minister Tufton told local media that he has himself tested negative.
What challenging times we live in. Here is the Ministry’s press release:
COVID-19 Update: Health Ministry Employee Tests Positive
KINGSTON, Jamaica. Thursday, April 16, 2020: The Ministry of Health & Wellness has been advised that one of its employees assigned to the Head Offices has tested positive for COVID-19.
In keeping with its own established protocol for infection prevention and control, the Ministry has decided to suspend operations at the Head Office Buildings in New Kingston on Friday, April 17, 2020.
This suspension of operation will allow for a sanitization exercise in all the buildings. Counselling for staff members has begun and will continue as necessary. Contact tracing at the head office has commenced and some members of staff, including the Permanent Secretary, Mr. Dunstan Bryan has been home-quarantined.
The Kingston & St. Andrew Health Department will continue to interview, sample and test other staff members, who would have had close contact with the employee in the last 14 days.
The Ministry’s National Health Emergency Operation Centre, which has been managing the national response to COVID-19 will continue to operate and functionaries will work remotely and/or work from the Centre as required.
The Head Offices are scheduled to re-open for normal operation on Monday, April 20, 2020.