This, the PNP said during a video press conference, is resulting in the public not heeding precautionary measures due to the perceived low number of cases.
Shadow Minister of Health Dr Morais Guy cautioned that the island’s testing numbers as a percentage of the population are lower than other comparable countries.
He highlighted that Barbados’s latest numbers show that one in every 1,400 persons have been tested; Trinidad, one in every 2,870 and Jamaica is currently testing at a rate of one in every 11,070.
If anyone thought this wasn’t a show by the government well here is the proof. If we are not testing then clearly we won’t know. Those other countries have a better chance to contain because they know the true position. Disappointment is an understatement sir. Jah know https://t.co/aCRvQDGvis— Dr Dayton Campbell, MP (@DaytonCampbell) March 31, 2020
A clearer and more accurate representation of the rate of infection as noted by Dr Morais Guy, will allow the MOH to target intervention in areas where larger numbers of infected cases are found.
“In order to influence the behavioural changes we are seeking, we need evidence and data to drive the intervention measures and focus resources to areas that are most affected. We need to ensure we test every frontline healthcare worker every two weeks so we can ensure they are protected and can continue to provide care to infected persons. Unless we put some of these measures in place, we will have lost the battle,” he noted.
Psychiatrist, Dr Winston De La Haye highlighted the need for focus on supporting the mental health of those affected during the COVID-19 crisis. Noting that thus far there has not been a response from the Government on ensuring the psychological well-being of the public, he called for hotlines to be created with support from the relevant agencies geared towards mental health.
De La Haye also asserted that the use of hotels and self-isolation are not sufficient to contain the spread of the pandemic:
“Now is the time to ensure we identify appropriate spaces to erect field hospitals to isolate, monitor and manage exposure. Areas like the National Area, National Stadium and the Jamaica Conference Centre can be retrofitted and poised to act as field hospitals to effectively treat those affected.”
De la Haye pointed out that: In such a time of crisis, we also need to engage those able to ensure we have command and control of the situation; we need to engage the JDF.”
De La Haye revised his earlier position that based on emerging evidence, the use of masks by all serves as a barrier protecting against droplets which may spread COVID-19 and encouraged all members of the public to use them as a precaution against transmission.
With regard to the economic impact of COVID-19, Mark Golding, MP, called for a comprehensive fiscal programme to adequately protect against the unraveling of the economy: “It is necessary to implement measures to support Jamaica’s small farmers, to feed the society and reduce the country’s food import bill.
He also made recommendations to provide upfront grants of $15,000 for NIS pensioners; $50,000 grants for PATH families, and a moratorium on student loan payments with the aim of protecting these groups during the pandemic.
Opposition spokesperson on Justice, Donna Scott-Mottley, reiterated that the constitution should be observed and should guide all actions of the Government and the public during this time of crisis. She pointed to the number of persons currently detained who have not been charged noting that containment of the virus within the prison system could be a source of another threat to the health of the population:
“The government must look at the mechanisms so that people who are not a threat to society can be released into the general population where they can be effectively monitored. We do not need another crisis.”
Scott-Mottley also called for a proclamation of a State of Emergency (SOE) under section 20(2)(c) of the constitution to better control the crisis, arguing that the imposed curfew cannot achieve the same goal as an SOE to help curtail the spread of the disease.
The PNP urged the Government of Jamaica to consider the solutions brought forward, indicating its support and willingness to work with the administration to contain the spread of COVID-19.
- Countries: Jamaica