JM | Dec 15, 2020

Health Ministry working to contain COVID outbreak at Bellevue

Gavin Riley

Gavin Riley / Our Today

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Bellevue Hospital, along Windward Road in Kingston, stands as the only health facility in Jamaica that caters solely to the needs of the mentally ill.

The Ministry of Health and Wellness, in conjunction with the South East Regional Health Authority (SERHA), has launched protocols to contain further spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) at the Bellevue Hospital in Kingston.

In a statement on Tuesday (December 15), the ministry indicated it has discovered a cluster of cases at the mental health institution.

“Up to the weekend, 21 of 29 patients tested and two of 23 staff members tested had returned positive results for COVID-19,” the ministry disclosed.

“The public health team has since gone into the institution where a range of infection prevention and control measures are now in place,” the statement continued.

Among the control measures, the ministry will be separating COVID- positive patients from the general patient population; a testing scheme on wards that share “a common area” the identified cluster ward.

Health officials will begin the symptomatic surveillance of all other wards, with the testing of all symptomatic persons, as well as restricting interaction among staff and patients from different wards.

A section of the entrance to Bellevue Hospital. (Photo: Emma Lewis)

Additionally, Bellevue staff will be further trained in infection prevention and control, including cleaning and sanitisation, while doctors are to be trained to swab persons to support the testing efforts.

Face masks remain mandatory, while the ward to which the cases are
now confined will accept no new admissions.

“As we near the holidays, we are, as forecast, seeing an increase in our COVID-19 numbers. I cannot over-emphasise the need for members of the public, in and outside our various institutions, to be vigilant in the practice of infection prevention and control measures,” said Chief Medical Officer Dr Jacquiline Bisasor-McKenzie.

“COVID-19 is a threat to all of us, but there is much that we can do to protect ourselves. We can all wear our masks, keep our physical distance from others, frequently wash our hands, and clean and sanitise our common areas. Those measures will help to keep us safe,” the CMO added.


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