Friday 23 October, 2020

Gov’t playing Russian roulette with J’cans and COVID management - Guy

People’s National Party’s (PNP) Spokesman on Health and Wellness, Dr Morais Guy, has charged that Jamaicans are now “sitting ducks”, as the Government has not only lost control of the fight against the coronavirus (COVID-19), but has also abandoned the testing protocols, leaving the nation to battle the alarming increases in positive cases on its own.

As of Thursday, the total number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 on the island stood at 4,571, with 55 deaths. This is up from a little under 1,000 cases and 10 deaths in early August.

According to Guy, the entire testing regime appears now to be on autopilot, which is guaranteed to spread the disease faster and wider afield, exposing vulnerable groups to the possibility of death.

“Currently there is no testing of persons who have been exposed to positive cases; very limited, if any contact tracing is taking place; there is no testing of asymptomatic persons, and there is no fast-track available to frontline healthcare workers who have been exposed to the virus. And the wait time for persons who have tested positive is way too long,” said Guy in a release.

The Opposition spokesman has also taken issue with a decision by the National Public Health Laboratory to accept only 400 samples per day for testing. He argued that the high numbers of daily positive cases “do not represent what we are currently dealing with at the hospitals”.

In stating that Jamaica has the capacity to test over 3,000 samples per day, Guy said testing just 400 samples falls well below 25 per cent of the country’s capacity.

“For this reason, I believe we have lost the battle to safeguard the nation from the spread, and we are now like sitting ducks,” he declared.

“This Government has lost control over the spread of the virus and has admitted to having reduced capacity to test, yet they have continued to prevent private facilities from doing any testing,” Guy further remarked.

He said with more than 100 new cases per day and the number of deaths averaging over two per day, the crisis needs urgent and strict management.

Guy, a medical doctor, said the idea that has been put forward by Health and Wellness Minister, Dr Christopher Tufton, that the management of coronavirus testing can be treated in the same vein as testing for the dengue virus, is unacceptable.

“In the case of coronavirus, it is only through testing, isolating suspected cases and contact tracing that a reduction in the spread can be achieved. Therefore, the management of the coronavirus must be a deliberate strategy to engage communities and enforce protocols,” said Guy.

He further indicated that with the country now experiencing a 100 per cent increase in deaths in just over 14 days, it would behove the Government to follow the latest advice of the Pan-American Health Organisation (PAHO) that was issued on Wednesday, for countries within the region, including Jamaica, to do more testing, isolating of suspected cases, and contact tracing as the best strategy to stem the spread of the pandemic.

Guy urged the Government to urgently take control of the situation, as critical care hospital beds are now in short supply and the public healthcare system cannot manage the increases.

“Jamaicans cannot just be sent home with the virus to live or die. The Government is expected to provide the necessary framework and resources to save the lives of both the healthcare workers and the population. This game of (Russian) roulette with the lives of the people of Jamaica is unacceptable,” he stated.

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