Yes, we are going to do both. Our political leaders are heading towards “normal” and “living with COVID” (whatever that is going to look like) while at the same time, numbers of COVID-19 cases continue to rise and three communities were placed in quarantine today (May 7).
There is a great deal of news, derived from two press briefings. Unusually, the Prime Minister’s briefing started on time – well done! – and the Ministry’s started late. Then there was the press release this morning on the quarantined communities. Maybe I can try to put it into bullet points. I have much more to report that will be of interest, but that will be for another day – hopefully tomorrow!
So as of 6:00 p.m. today (Thursday, May 7):
- We now have 488 positive cases of COVID-19. This includes ten new cases today and two new cases yesterday.
- One more person recovered today, bringing the total recoveries to 58. There are 17 patients in transitional facilities, hopefully to be released soon.
- The breakdown is a little complicated. There are now 224 cases related to the call center in St. Catherine; the number of imported cases remains at 35. 390 cases have emerged as a result of investigations.
- More than 3,000 contacts have been traced as of yesterday evening.
- There are no critically ill patients, and five are moderately ill.
- With nine deaths, we have a less than 2 percent mortality rate.
- 64 patients (confirmed and suspected) are hospitalized.
- There are 226 patients in isolation in government facilities and 140 in home isolation.
- There are 155 patients in government quarantine.
- There are 300 females and 188 males, with ages two months to 87 years. There are more women because of the call centre.
- Testing has increased in the past 24 hours (a total of 421, a pretty big increase). The Ministry of Health and Wellness says 322 were new samples, while 99 were repeat tests for people in persons of interest in quarantine and patients in isolation. [at last night’s briefing, Minister Tufton said Jamaica was “not the worst” in terms of testing as a percentage of the population – we are 8th out of 14 Caribbean countries.
- The total number of tests done to date is 6,417. 42 samples are pending. At last night’s press briefing, the Chief Medical Officer announced that the testing protocol has been expanded: all hospital admissions will now be tested, and those who wish to be tested will soon be able to apply on the Ministry website.
Meanwhile the Resilience Subcommittee of the Economic Recovery Task Force met today, and “fleshed out” plans for what Minister Tufton, who chairs the task force, called the “Living with COVID new norm.” While we have not yet “flattened the curve,” we are anxious to get back to normal. The meeting was live streamed via Zoom, but unfortunately I missed it. I have some catching up to do on all the details, I confess.
Since (at the Office of the Prime Minister’s press briefing on Monday evening) it was announced that many of the measures under Jamaica’s gazetted Orders and Amendments will end on May 31, one assumes that the “new normal” will begin on June 1, 2020. Including, one surmises, the reopening of Jamaica’s borders; Sandals Resorts will reopen on June 4, and not just for us Jamaicans, I suppose. We await further announcements.
ALL the Gazetted orders posted online have been carefully collected and posted on my fellow blogger Susan Goffe’s website here. Thanks so much for posting these Susan – a great public service and a great reference for people like me!
Finally, and somewhat dramatically, we learned this morning that three communities in rural St. Mary are under quarantine for the next two weeks, per the Ministry of Health and Wellness press release, from which I quote as follows:
The Ministry of Health and Wellness in collaboration with the National Emergency Operation Centre at the ODPEM has reviewed the situation in St. Mary this morning. In consultation with the Local Health Authority, North East Regional Health Authority (NERHA), the quarantining of areas in the parish of St. Mary comprising Dover, Enfield and Annotto Bay (the Communities) (as specifically identified below) for 14 days will take effect from Thursday, May 7, 2020 at 6:00 a.m. to Thursday, May 21, 2020 at 6:00 a.m. The following are the key points to note:
There are a total of 13 persons who have tested positive for COVID-19 in the communities and our investigations show that there is considerable movement of the affected persons which has increased the risk of exposure to all persons in the communities.
Exposed persons in the communities may develop infection and cause spread to other members in the communities resulting in a rapid increase in the numbers of positive cases. This is due to the high movement of persons within the affected households within the communities; the high population density of two of the communities identified and the high vulnerability of persons within the communities to severe illness due to age, comorbidities and other socio-economic factors.
The quarantine of the communities is to restrict movement of members of the communities to slow or prevent new exposures and hence new infections by:
- Further testing of members of the communities;
- Close monitoring of members of the communities for development of symptoms;
- Early containment of newly detected cases;
- Prevention of new exposures and transmission of disease; and
- Education of members of the communities of Infection Prevention and Control measures.
None of the local media houses have reported on a major funeral which allegedly took place in the town of Annotto Bay on April 18.