With the island recording a noticeable increase in coronavirus cases over recent weeks, Dr Morais Guy, shadow minister for health and wellness, is demanding that the Government provide a status update on the country’s COVID-19 testing and vaccination campaign.
Making his contribution to the 2022-2023 Sectoral Debate in the House of Representatives on Tuesday (May 10), Guy stated: “The (COVID-19) vaccination debacle demands some discussion.”
He noted that, ever since the initial launch of the country’s vaccination campaign in March 2021, “there have been piecemeal programmes to ramp (up) vaccination which have not been successful”.
The shadow minister argued: “Earlier this year, the (health) minister told the country that there were some new proposals to increase vaccination and that the country would be advised shortly. Since then, he has made his Sectoral presentation without even a whimper about vaccination.”
Guy took the opportunity to emphasise the importance of increased COVID-19 vaccine takeup, stating “that the best defence against COVID-19 and its several variants is vaccination and continued public health measures such as mask-wearing”.
His comments follow a statement made during a March 2022 COVID-19 press briefing by Ian Stein, a representative of the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO), who stated that “with less than 25 per cent of the Jamaican population fully vaccinated, any surge is a worrisome issue and could put an additional or renewed strain on the health system”.
In light of this, the shadow minister stated: “We still await the announcement of the enhanced programme and hope that the many recommendations that the Opposition has made in the past will be incorporated into this programme.”
In addition to a status update on Jamaica’s COVID-19 vaccination campaign, Guy also called for an update on the status of the country’s COVID-19 testing.
He noted: “The rising numbers of cases in recent weeks since the new measures are of concern. However, we are equally concerned that the level of testing in the public sector has fallen drastically.”
According to Guy, “health centres report that they do not have the staff to do testing on the days when they are scheduled”.
A perceived decrease in the number of daily COVID-19 tests is also in line with comments made by the World Health Organization in late April that reduced testing is leaving the world “blind” to how the virus spreads.
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