Health Minister Dr Christopher Tufton has come under heavy scrutiny by Jamaicans after a statement he made on Friday about the spread of COVID-19 in upper class communities being alarming.
He was speaking on Friday at a digital press conference held by the ministry where he announced that the country is now in the community spread phase of the pandemic, which means the virus is present across the entire island with no epidemiological link for transmission in many cases.
“Uptown seems to be in some cases, particularly in the Corporate Area, more affected now than downtown. Not to allow anyone to be complacent downtown, but it is quite obvious that the spread in certain parts of uptown seems to be more concentrated,” he stated.
However, many have come forward to bash the statement, questioning whether only uptown communities matter.
McKoy’s News made note of multiple comments made on social media.
“It’s of more concern since it’s affecting ‘upper class’ people. Smh (shake my head),” wrote Coleen Cowell on Instagram.
Shannon McKenzie added, “So COVID was supposed to only be contained within poor communities then?”
Meanwhile Francine Morrison added, “So upper class shouldn’t get it Mr Sir? I think you should be worried about everybody. All lives matter.”
Tufton added that there are a number of possible explanations for the increase in the upper echelons such as house parties and gatherings.
“Just as we would say if you’re sitting on the corner in other communities [although] that’s the kind of relaxation and entertainment and cultural dynamics we are used to, we have to desist; I’m saying the same for those who have the house parties and engage in the kind of practices that do not encourage the physical distancing; you are just as vulnerable. No matter who we think we are or where we are from or where we are we have to comply because you are as susceptible to the virus as everybody else, and we have to follow the protocol. The Kingston 6 and 8 [areas], and so on, have to be careful because we are seeing evidence of the spread in those communities that is worrying and could have implications for your own health and wellness,” he said.
He explained that Jamaica declared community transmission on September 2 and that mechanisms are already in train in the public health system in anticipation of a “steep rise” in the number of cases over the next six to eight weeks.
Community spread means the virus can no longer easily be traced.