GBR | Jan 24, 2022

Context is important when relaxing COVID measures, says Tufton

Juanique Tennant

Juanique Tennant / Our Today

Minister of Health and Wellness Dr Christpher Tufton addressing a virtual COVID Conversation press briefing in December. (File Photo: JIS)

On the heels of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s announcement that, beginning January 27, his administration would be putting an end to England’s Plan B measures, Minister of Health and Wellness Dr Christopher Tufton says context is an important consideration when relaxing COVID-19 measures.

Speaking during a COVID Conversations news briefing held last Thursday (January 20), Tufton articulated that, following Johnson’s announcement around the relaxation of COVID-19 measures and, in particular, the removal of mask mandates in public spaces, there has been a lot of online chatter comparing the position taken by the British Government to that of the Jamaican Government.

“One of the unfortunate features of the COVID response in Jamaica is the extent to which persons adopt or attempt to adopt what happens in other jurisdictions as standard recommendations for why we are deficient and why we are not doing what we should be doing…,” began Tufton.

“Because a country makes a decision that they think is in the best interest of their population, there is almost an automatic assumption by some and sometimes persons in very high places… that because the UK is doing it or the US is doing it, we must do it too because it is the right thing to do,” said the health minister.

He noted however that such a position is “naive”, as it ignores context.

“In every decision, you take around matters of this kind… context matters, because it is the unique features of a circumstance that determines how you respond,” argued Tufton.

Using the issue of mask-wearing as an example, he informed: “The fact is that the UK has a much higher vaccination rate than we do, including booster shots. They have far better hospital facilities than we do, including personnel and they have other things working in their favour in terms of how the virus has passed through their population… .”

On the other hand, “In our case, we have a 22 per cent vaccination rate. We have a hospital with a capacity of 1,200 beds before we start running into significant difficulties and other forms of input like oxygen that if we are not careful and it becomes a free for all, then we end up with persons dying…”.

Given this, the health minister asked that when individuals place their voice around issues of this nature they “take some time to understand the context and the circumstances and the difference between ourselves and others”.


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