(Jamaica Gleaner) – Minister of Health and Wellness, Dr Christopher Tufton this evening revealed that there have been 17 confirmed cases of COVID-19 among health care workers across the country.
Eight of the confirmed cases have been at the Kingston Public Hospital (KPH) alone, which include two positive cases announced last week. The remaining nine cases have been recorded in hospitals across the country.
Tufton acknowledged that the rise in cases are impacting hospitals and putting more health workers at risk.
“The risk is greater the more hospital staff have to treat positive cases. If you’re only treating two cases, it’s not as risky as treating 20 cases and the fact that we have more positive cases means our front line workers are more exposed,” he said.
He outlined that more cases mean fewer workers will be present to carry out their duties.
“The consequences of this is that we have to now isolate these persons; do the same contact tracing that we would have to do in the community context and during that period a number of persons would have to be quarantined until test results are had and they are given a clean bill of health,” he said.
At KPH, 31 staff members have been quarantined. The results of 50 people at the hospital are also pending.
“I just want to reach out with a sense of encouragement and appreciation and understanding to the administrative and medical staff of the Kingston Public Hospital, because it is a trying and challenging time for them and the ministry will give all the support that is necessary to help them overcome this process,” Tufton said.
He said although the KPH was not the only hospital with COVID-19 cases among its workers, given the hospital’s importance as one of only three Type A facilities in the country, its services will be affected by the positive cases among its staff. Type A hospitals offer several key services, which are not available at most other hospitals across the country.
But Tufton insisted that there was always a plan in place for instances of positive cases among health care workers.
“We expect that these things will happen from time to time, so it is not that we are searching for solutions, we are working through solutions based on a process that is decided on prior to these eventualities occurring,” he said.