(JAMAICA OBSERVER) – Health and Wellness Minister Dr Christopher Tufton says he has ordered the Standards and Regulation Unit in his ministry to contact all nursing homes across the country and provide them with a protocol of operation on learning that only 35 of the 185 meet the requirements for registration.
“My big worry is that if we have an outbreak of COVID-19 in a nursing home or an infirmary, or somewhere like that, the consequences are likely to be dire,” Dr Tufton told the Jamaica Observer yesterday.
“I dread the likelihood of COVID-19 spreading within any or multiple facilities of this kind because they represent a weak point, because the people in these homes are older persons — persons with multiple comorbid conditions. And the history of the disease, even in our limited context with those who have died, suggests that the people who are most affected are the people who meet that criteria,” Tufton added.
“So what I’ve asked the Standards and Regulation Unit to do is not only to look at the longer term, but in the short term we need to reach out to all of them, even the ones not registered, and provide them with the sort of best practices that are necessary,” he said.
Clinicians and scientists studying the novel coronavirus disease have repeatedly emphasised that older adults and people of any age who have serious underlying medical conditions might be at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19. The United Nations put the fatality rate among people over 80 at five times the global average.
Last Saturday, the Health and Wellness Ministry reported that Jamaica had 463 confirmed cases of the virus. Of that number, 217 are related to the Alorica call centre in Portmore, St Catherine, which has been shuttered.
The ages of all confirmed cases range from two months to 87 years. The island has recorded eight COVID-19 deaths so far.