350 Cases of COVID-19 in Jamaica, and Sad Stories Too

The past few days have been difficult in terms of numbers, as testing has increased (395 in the past 24 hours). Once again, more than half of the cases are connected to the call centre in St. Catherine, which is still quarantined. The issue of stigma and discrimination – fueled by fear and ignorance and not helped by misinformation and disinformation on social media – has also raised its ugly head, and needs to be dealt with. It’s not an easy one.

Very sadly, we recorded a seventh death. One little four-year-old passed away at Cornwall Regional Hospital in western Jamaica last week.

Professor Tara Dasgupta.

A few days earlier, the sixth death from COVID-19 was that of Professor Emeritus of Inorganic Chemistry at the University of the West Indies (UWI) Mona campus, Tara Dasgupta, OD. I am deeply saddened by the Professor’s passing, as I knew him personally and had enjoyed many talks and correspondence with him at the fascinating seminars on climate change and other topics that he was a part of, organized by the Caribbean Academy of Sciences at UWI. The last time we met was at a Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) regional meeting on climate change and health last October – when COVID-19 was still unheard of. He will be sadly missed by his colleagues (and me).

Then just last night, news emerged that a young woman had died after giving birth at the Spanish Town Hospital. According to television reports, she was denied treatment at two other hospitals, having shown some symptoms of shortness of breath, etc. A wave of outrage took over social media this afternoon on the topic. Minister of Health and Wellness Christopher Tufton has expressed condolences, and promised an investigation into the matter. We look forward to hearing the truth about what really happened. 


My deepest condolences to the families of all three who have passed. Unfortunately, I expect there will be more sad, personal stories to tell before this is over. If and when it is over!


KINGSTON, Jamaica. Sunday, April 26, 2020: The Ministry of Health & Wellness’ National Surveillance Unit has advised that 45 samples tested positive for COVID-19 in the last 24 hours. This has brought the total number of confirmed cases in the island to 350.

The 45 new cases are comprised of 19 males and 26 females, who range in age from 1 year to 75 years old.

In the meantime, 11 of the 45 new cases are employees with the workplace cluster in St Catherine, 14 are contacts of a confirmed employee in the workplace cluster, 10 are contacts of a confirmed case, and 10 are under investigation. One Hundred and Seventy-Eight (178) of the 350 confirmed cases are employees in the workplace cluster in St Catherine.

Overall, Jamaica now has 34 imported cases; 9 cases that are local transmission with no epidemiological link; 178 are local transmission cases related to a work place cluster; 94 are contacts of a confirmed case and 35 cases are under investigation.

Three Hundred and Ninety-Five (395) samples were tested in the last 24 hours at the National Influenza Centre and the National Public Health Laboratory, bringing the total number samples tested to 3,262 with 350 positives, 2,890 negatives and 22 samples are pending.

There are now 321 persons in isolation and 91 in quarantine at a Government facility. Seven persons have died, while 28 patients have recovered.

Investigation Launched – Death of Mother of New-Born

The Minister of Health & Wellness, Dr. the Hon. Christopher Tufton, MP, has called for an urgent investigation into the matter relating to the death of patient, who recently gave birth at the Spanish Town Hospital.

According to Dr. Tufton, “We wish to express our deepest condolences and regret to the family and friends at the passing of a young lady, who recently gave birth at the Spanish Town Hospital.  I have asked for a thorough investigation to be done and as soon as the report becomes available, we will make this information known to the public. I have also asked that the protocols surrounding admission of patients, including those who are suspected COVID-19 patients to be reviewed and for health personnel to be re-sensitized.”

“In the meantime, we will give the necessary support to the new-born child, who remains stable and in hospital. We are also making counselling services available to the family members and those who are impacted by this loss,” Dr. Tufton added.

The hard work continues: This is field work taking place in one of the mobile testing units. (Photo: Twitter)

Ministry of Health and Wellness: Clinical Management Summary as at 6:00 p.m. on Sunday, April 26, 2020

Number of samples tested 3,262
Samples  tested in the last 24 hours 395
Number of samples that returned positive results 350
Number of deaths 7
Number of persons recovered and discharged 28
Total number of hospitalised patients (including patients who are COVID-19 positive and/or suspected COVID-19 positive) 114
Number of persons critically ill 3
Number of persons moderately ill 5
Number of persons in facility isolation (outside of hospital) 128
Number of patients in step down/transitional facilities 25
Number of persons in home isolation 54
Number of persons in quarantine at a Government facility 91


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