21 people quarantined at hotel offered to Gov’t in COVID-19 fight

MONTEGO BAY, St James — Health and Wellness Minister Dr Christopher Tufton has disclosed that 21 people are now quarantined at Carlisle Inn, the 52-room hotel in this resort city that Sandals Resorts International (SRI) offered the Government for use in its response to the COVID-19 crisis.

“We have 21 persons here at this facility. I want to just use this opportunity to thank the management, the owners of Sandals hotel, for allowing us the use of this facility. This has enhanced, significantly, our capacity to respond to the challenges of COVID-19. It’s a nice facility and it really allows social distancing,” the health and wellness minister said yesterday during a media briefing, following a tour of the hotel on Kent Avenue.

Apart from offering the hotel, SRI Chairman Gordon “Butch” Stewart also offered to help finance 40 ventilators at a cost of $20 million in response to the pandemic.

Speaking in Montego Bay yesterday, in the company of senior members of the Western Regional Health Authority (WRHA), Dr Tufton disclosed that six people have been confirmed with COVID-19 in the four parishes under the umbrella of the WRHA Trelawny, St James, Hanover, and Westmoreland.

He revealed that St James tops the list with four confirmed cases, two of whom have since recovered while the other two are undergoing treatment. Meanwhile, one of the two individuals in Westmoreland who had tested positive, had succumbed to the disease.

“And all (six) are persons with a travel history and contacts of confirmed cases,” Dr Tufton explained.

He noted that, “in terms of port health and quarantine”, the total number of individuals arriving in the four parishes between March 18 and 24 was approximately 981. He said contact has so far been made with 623 of them.

The health authorities have been appealing to people who arrived in the island over that period to go into self-quarantine, and have warned that those who did not do so and are mixing with the population would be tracked, placed in quarantine and prosecuted.

“Others have self-reported by the national website and we are now in the process of reconciling the list,” he said.

“So you would have heard that some 5,000 [people] were being looked for and we were able to identify, through the various means and the appeals that we made, some 4,500. We have about 1,000 or so up to yesterday (Wednesday) that we’re still trying to locate. And I have just given you the number in the west, 623 of 981, and we are still reconciling that list to ensure that all are accounted for, and I want to appeal that persons respond to what is being required,” he said.

Tufton also used the occasion to praise health workers.

“I am proud to be minister of health at this time, despite the challenges, because of the team we have on the ground, and in particular, as it relates to contact tracing. Our primary health-care personnel — our nurses, our community public health personnel who are out and who manage to investigate to find out the people that they are looking for, interview them, to log — if we did not have that level of efficiency on the ground, I am prepared to say things could have been a lot worse. And that applies across the country, but certainly, I want to commend you in the west for that work,” Dr Tufton said.

He also thanked hospital management and staff for their efforts in the COVID-19 fight.

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