Saturday 8 August, 2020

Tufton breaks down $3.8 billion COVID-19 spend so far

Dr Christopher Tufton (File photo)

Dr Christopher Tufton (File photo)

Of the approximately $6 billion budgeted so far for the Government’s COVID-19 response, $3.8 billion has already been spent on containment measures.

Health and Wellness Minister, Dr Christopher Tufton, gave an update as he made his contribution to the 2020-2021 Sectoral Debate in the House of Representatives on Tuesday.

A breakdown of the figure shows that $775 million was spent as financial support for the regional health authorities to boost their COVID-19 response.

A further breakdown of the expenditure reveals the following:

*Infrastructure upgrade - $89 million. Among other things, the funds were used to purchase an additional 63 intensive care and high-dependency units.

*Medical equipment, including personal protective gear and COVID-19 test kits – more than $1.7 billion.

*Procurement of prescription drugs by the National Health Fund – more than $500 million.

Tufton said other associated costs included the retrofitting of quarantine/isolation facilities to care for persons who are suspected or confirmed to have COVID-19.

The minister said he was satisfied with the level of the expenditure to date.

“I am comfortable that we have been getting value for money as evidenced by the slowing of the disease, which has resulted in a less than expected number of cases and hospitalisations here on the island,” Tufton told the House.

“Jamaica has so far kept the number of cases below the health system’s capacity to respond,” he added.

The health minister said of the 737 confirmed cases of the coronavirus up to July 6, only 14 or 1.9 per cent have been critically ill, and eleven, or 1.5 per cent, were moderately ill.

Additionally, after almost four months since Jamaica’s first confirmed case of COVID-19 on March 10, Jamaica has had a mortality rate of 1.4 per cent, compared to the international rate of between three and four per cent.

And, as of Monday, July 6, Jamaica had a recovery rate of 80.2 per cent, a hospitalisation rate of less than one per cent, and a reproductive rate of less than one per cent.

“This is a very commendable achievement and a tribute to the country’s public health response to the pandemic,” Tufton stated.

He continued that “When compared to other jurisdictions, I believe we can safely say that the health system in Jamaica is working to protect the citizens of Jamaica.”

Tufton said this was a tribute to the public health system and the administration that has given critical support. He lauded public health workers whom he said have been at the forefront of the COVID-19 response.

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