Health Minister promised further reduction in COVID-19 restrictions

Health Minister Dr. Christopher Tufton said the public should expect a further decrease in COVID-19 restriction measures if positivity rates continue to decline.

However, the minister emphasized that this action will also depends on a number of other factors.

“We don’t anticipate that we are going to be living in this environment forever. The idea is to manage the risk, to overcome the risk and hopefully, over time, given all the measures — including the vaccine — eliminate the risk. The more you achieve persons getting vaccinated, the less the risk because that is the most effective defence as of now, and therefore you will see the elimination and relaxation of non-clinical measures,” Tufton stated.

This statement was made by the Health and Wellness Minister at the ministry’s COVID conversations briefing yesterday.

Chief Medical Officer Dr. Jacquiline Bisasor-McKenzie weighed in on the matter and agreed that this is the route the country should be taking in reducing the measures, once more people become vaccinated.

“The better our numbers get, the more we get vaccinated, then the more likely we are to reduce more restrictions,” said McKenzie.

Despite reports of the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions such as mandating the wearing of face masks in the United States among several other states, Caribbean countries like Barbados said they will not decrease their restrictions any time soon. Guyana has also indicated that it will not be removing its face mask mandate for people fully vaccinated against the novel coronavirus.

In Jamaica, only a small percentage of individuals who have received their first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine, have turned up across some health locations to take their second dose. The ministry is still hopeful that other persons who are eligible for their second dose will show up for the vaccine, as they are perhaps adhering to the 10-12 weeks timeline they were given to receive the second dose.

Director of family health services in the ministry, Dr. Melody Ennis, highlighted that the ministry could provide clearer information on the number of persons who have received their second dose by June 30th.

However, Dr. McKenzie does not believe Jamaica is ready for a COVID-19 reduction in restrictions despite the downward trend in the number of COVID-19 patients being hospitalized for admissions. She outlined that of the over 700 beds reserved for COVID-19 patients, only 150 are new bed spaces, which means that Jamaica’s health system is still under pressure.

 

By Natasha Williams

Mckoy’s Senior reporter

 

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