COVID-19 Surveillance Begins in West Kingston, Jamaica, To Continue Tomorrow


How is the COVID-19 situation in Jamaica? I am not sure what to say.

I have heard a few disturbing anecdotes and reports of returning nationals not quite obeying the home quarantine rules. There have been a few “import-related” cases in recent days – in other words, people coming in, who have infected others. I hope there are enough public health officials to monitor the reported 2,332 people now in home quarantine, plus the 114 in home isolation (I am not sure what the distinction is between these two). 

Nevertheless, the Ministry of Health and Wellness’ speedy response to this concern in West Kingston (a densely populated area) is welcomed. They are seeking to step up their public education on social distancing and other personal measures to be taken in the face of COVID-19.

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How NOT to do social distancing: Bournemouth beach in the south of England as thousands flocked to the seaside on the hottest day of the year. (Photo: Getty Images)

However, as we saw over the weekend, there have been some examples of people apparently ignoring the rules in public places. Not on the scale that has been happening in other parts of the world! In the UK, for example, where every time the temperature reaches around 30º C the good citizens get a rush of blood to the head, and crowd the beaches and parks. Watch out for the Second Wave…

Here is the latest on West Kingston from the Ministry of Health and Wellness. This is two of their press releases combined, including an update on today’s activities.

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A scene in West Kingston. (Photo: CVM Television)

Community Surveillance Begins in West Kingston, to Continue Tomorrow

KINGSTON, Jamaica. Thursday, June 25, 2020: The Southeast Regional Health Authority (SERHA) has begun community surveillance activity in West Kingston, following recent confirmation of five cases of COVID-19. The persons are contacts of a confirmed case that recently returned to the island from the United States.

Some 70 samples were collected today (Thursday, June 25) and sent to the National Public Health Laboratory for testing.

Some 100 health staff, including medical doctors, public health inspectors, public health nurses and community health aides are conducting house to house visits and assessing the residents for respiratory symptoms. Residents with symptoms and those who the health team deem are at high risk, will be tested for COVID-19 and quarantine orders served.

Groundwork in the community started yesterday, as personnel from the Kingston & St. Andrew Health Department began its health education and community engagement programme. Surveillance, including not only sampling but also public education, will continue tomorrow, as the health authorities move to safeguard the health and well-being of the local community and the larger Jamaican population.

The Ministry of Health and Wellness is urging the residents of West Kingston to continue to cooperate with the health team on the ground.

“The cooperation and participation of our people is essential if we are to continue to make progress in the national COVID-19 response efforts,” noted Chief Medical Officer (CMO), Dr. Jacquiline Bisasor-McKenzie.

“In order to quickly and effectively complete the surveillance activities in West Kingston,  we rely on residents to truthfully answer queries from the health team and to agree to the sampling that is to be done,” she added.

We are, of course, available to answer any queries that residents may have and will work to get those persons who are sampled their test results in the shortest possible time,” the CMO said further.

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The Ministry of Health and Wellness reminds the public of the need for increased vigilance in the maintenance of the quarantine orders that have been issued to persons who recently returned to the island. 

The Ministry also wishes to remind the public of the need to maintain the infection prevention and control practices such as the washing and sanitizing of hands frequently, the wearing of masks in public spaces and around persons who are in quarantine, the covering of coughs with a tissue and disposing of it in the nearest receptacle and the sanitizing of high frequency areas in your homes. 
Members of the public are also reminded that when persons return to the island and are in quarantine other members of the household are to maintain at least 6 feet distance and ensure that the person is kept apart from individuals at risk in the households such as the elderly and persons with co-morbid illnesses such as hypertension, diabetes and asthma.
The event below has already passed and I unfortunately missed it, but I am so pleased that the Ministry of Health and Wellness was involved in this discussion. In my series on COVID-19 on my Gleaner Blogs page “Social Impact,” I wrote about this vulnerable group and included comments from Jamaica AIDS Support for Life. In the subsequent article, I also wrote about the wonderful work of Eve for Life, who work with young mothers living with HIV/AIDS and their children.
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An online discussion on Monday focusing on people living with HIV/AIDS and COVID-19.

Another vulnerable group that the Ministry focused on recently was Jamaicans living with sickle cell disease – on World Sickle Cell Awareness Day, June 19.

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Sickle Cell Awareness Day and COVID-19.

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