JM | Jan 18, 2022

Increasing COVID-19 cases push public hospital network to the brink

Juanique Tennant

Juanique Tennant / Our Today

A Jamaican endures a nasopharyngeal test to determine COVID-19 infection.

Following an uptick in positive COVID-19 cases over the last two weeks which has in its wake left medical facilities overburdened and understaffed, the Ministry of Health and Wellness has announced that effective Wednesday, January 19, public hospitals will be restricted to conducting emergency care services only.

In a release late on Monday (January 17), the health ministry noted that the restriction “comes as several of the island’s public hospitals face increased pressure due to the growing number of confirmed and suspected COVID-19 cases.”

Worsening an already dire health situation, the ministry informed: “there is also decreased staff coverage as many health care workers are out sick.”

As of Sunday (January 16), there were some 682 persons in hospital isolation for COVID-19, of which 486 persons had tested positive for the virus and another 196 were suspected cases.

Minister of Health and Wellness, Dr Christpher Tufton speaking during a virtual COVID Conversation press briefing held on December 15. (Photo: JIS)

According to Health Minister Dr Christopher Tufton, “All our hospitals are seeing increased numbers and several of the larger hospitals are over 90 per cent capacity with some over 100 per cent. At the same time, there is an increase in admissions for other illnesses.

“As a result, all public hospitals are operating on emergencies only. Persons should exercise discretion in going to the hospitals at this time.”

At present, elective cases are being postponed. Members of the public will be advised as to the new dates for these procedures.

The health ministry continues to encourage all persons to get vaccinated, wear masks, practice regular handwashing and social distance. Public gatherings are to be avoided and individuals should stay home if they are sick.


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