Jamaica records more deaths from COVID; Trinidad health authorities worry

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Story via CMC – Jamaica Monday confirmed four new deaths associated with the coronavirus (COVID-19) and Trinidad and Tobago health authorities indicating that 10 per cent of repatriated citizens have tested positive for the virus.

The Ministry of Health and Wellness said that Jamaica also reported 35 35 new cases of the virus in the last 24 hours, pushing the total to 8,749 of which 4.139 are active. The ministry said the new cases consist of 11 males and 24 females with ages ranging from three years to 88 years

It said that the four new deaths –two males and two females- with ages ranging from 48 to 88 brings the total confirmed deaths in the country to 192.

The ministry also reported that 21 more patients have recovered from the virus, bringing the country’s total recoveries to 4,303.

In Trinidad and Tobago, Dr Maryam Abdool-Richards, Principal Medical Officer – Institutions, told reporters while the country has been able to repatriate a number of its citizens in recent days, the capacity of the country’s parallel healthcare system to house and quarantine them upon their return is also vital.

She told the Ministry of Health’s virtual news conference that within the last seven days 240 nationals have been repatriated from Miami, New York and Barbados, with a further 280 expected to arrive in Port of Spain this week from the same three jurisdictions.

“The repatriation process involves a seven-day quarantine at a quarantine centre followed by a seven-day quarantine at home. This process is ongoing given the percentage of persons in the repatriation process that have tested positive over the last week.

“The critical factor in the repatriation process would really be dependent on the parallel healthcare system ability to ensure that ill patients are able to be hospitalised, in terms of suspect cases and positive cases, Dr. Richards said, adding that approximately 10 per cent of repatriated nationals have tested positive for COVID-19.

She said that the parallel healthcare system, which manages all cases of COVID-19 in the public sector, has been upgraded from a two-bedded unit at the Caura Hospital when it was activated March 12, to now boast 1,551 beds spread across 19 facilities.

The medical professional said that the parallel healthcare system also provide support via quality assurance and quality control measures to the oil and gas industry, and has also managed patients on offshore facilities.

“Additionally, the parallel healthcare system manages persons through a quality assurance and quality control mechanism for the diplomatic corps,” she said, adding that the benefits of the parallel healthcare system really allowed the traditional health system to continue operating uninterrupted. It also prevents the issue of infection to persons in the parallel healthcare system.

“There is also a high level of inter-operability between the quarantine centres and the step-down centres,” she said.

Meanwhile, epidemiologist Dr. Avery Hinds stressed the importance of a healthy, balanced diet for boosting one’s immune system and warned that there was no supplement that could be used to definitively guard against infection and urged the public not to engage in risky behaviour.

 “What we don’t want people to go away with is the idea that taking some one particular supplement is going to protect them against potential COVID-19 infection. That’s what we’re concerned about.

“Yes, some things may help your immune system to respond better in general, but those things do not guarantee any special protection against COVID-19,” he told reporters.

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