Following weeks of a noticeable increase in the country’s confirmed coronavirus cases, Dr Brian James, president of the Medical Association of Jamaica (MAJ) has declared that the country is now experiencing a fifth wave of virus cases.
According to James, a recent uptick in the number of COVID-19 cases since the removal of the Disaster Risk Management Act and the country’s confirmation of the presence of the highly transmissible Omicron BA.2 variant has heralded the fifth wave of coronavirus cases.
Despite an increase in daily COVID-19 infections, however, he noted that what will be most telling about the fifth wave will be the rate of increase in coronavirus related hospitalisations.
In a tweet on Tuesday (May 10) the MAJ president informed that while the wave of hospitalisations had begun, the current trend suggests that the increase is slower than it was during the fourth wave of the virus.
According to an Our Today review of available Ministry of Health and Wellness data, Jamaica on April 16 recorded one of its lowest total coronavirus-related hospitalisations since the start of the pandemic, with nine patients hospitalized and as of Thursday (May 12) has seen an increase in hospitalisations to 85 patients.
As hospitalisations continue to rise, James warned that the peak is yet to come. Previously, during the country’s fourth COVID-19 wave, the peak hospitalisation was recorded on January 18 with 577 coronavirus patients hospitalised.
In light of this, the MAJ President urged citizens: “Let us continue our vigilance and employ strategies that work; mask wearing, hand hygiene, avoiding crowds (and) getting vaccinated.”
In the meantime, Health Minister Dr Christopher Tufton stated: “So while we can accept based on the data that it appears on the face of it, for now, hospitalisation is at a lower rate of expansion or increase than positivity rate, the facts are that to the extent, that you end up in the hospital and get a severe bout of COVID if you are unvaccinated, the risk of significant damage to you and even death is exponentially higher than if you are or were vaccinated.”
He added: “The message is clear, we’ve said it over and over, get vaccinated. Vaccines are there, they are available and it is still the best form of protection (against the virus)”.
Tufton made his comments at a recent virtual COVID Conversations press briefing.