KINGSTON, Jamaica- May 18, 2022 - The Opposition Spokesman on Health and Wellness, Dr. Morais Guy, MP, says the Cabinet in general and the Minister of Health and Wellness, Dr. Christopher Tufton in particular, must take full responsibility for Jamaica’s new COVID crisis and the fifth virus wave, through the highly transmissible Omicron variant, BA2.
“In revealing the presence of the fifth wave this morning, it is alarming that the Minister confessed that the inflection point was reached on April 22, 2022, and yet the country was only being told four weeks later”, the Opposition Spokesman said. Dr Guy said the Minister was off hand in stating that the information was being provided so people could take steps to protect themselves when it is the duty of his Ministry to lead public health responses.
In a statement today, Dr Guy reminded that the Minister and the Prime Minister went against all caution and ended important public health protocols, at the time when it was known that the BA2 was present in Jamaica. He said warnings came from all the country’s medical groups, some public sector doctors, public health academics, among others.
The Opposition Spokesman said he had called for retention of mask wearing indoors and testing of arriving passengers in Jamaica, but the Government, pressured by interested groups, ignored good sense. He said the country is ill prepared for the fifth wave as public testing for both PCR and Antigen was at its lowest point with an over reliance on private testing facilities. In addition, the field hospital capacity had been significantly mothballed.
In addition, Dr. Guy said, the vaccination programme was now at its lowest point, as citizens believed it was no longer necessary since almost all protocols had been lifted. “The programme must be immediately reimagined and promoted aggressively, as the country’s vaccination status is dangerously low to fight a highly transmissible and virulent virus”, Dr. Guy emphasized.
He said the country was living in hope that hospitalization would remain low or manageable, but the low vaccinations is the proverbial fly in the ointment.
Dr. Guy said the while country could not now cry over spilt milk, the Government must immediately take all the mitigating actions, including ramping up of COVID testing in the public health sector, making self-testing kits available particularly in the school system where they are now virtually non-existent, restore mask wearing indoors and launch the designed vaccination programme promised in February.