CMO says some COVID-19 patients will be isolated at their homes

CHIEF Medical Officer Dr Jacquiline Bisasor-McKenzie, pointing to “problems with stigma”, says Jamaicans must come to terms with the reality that people deemed to be COVID-19 positive will be isolated at home in the coming days.

“What we want to do is to prepare the public is that we are going to have positive cases that will be isolated at home. We are getting there very quickly,” the CMO told a digital meeting of the special select committee of Parliament on COVID-19 yesterday.

Already, Dr Bisasor-McKenzie said, “We do have persons who are being isolated at home. In terms of making the assessment of those persons who can be isolated at home we would have to look at the home situation, the symptoms the persons have, and the risk factors they have. We also look at the dislocation, and the suitability of the home.”

Said the CMO: “Right now we have one person isolated at home who lives by himself and another set of people who are members of one family. In making the decision we even had discussions with the community association,” she told the meeting.

She also said while plans are afoot to retrofit the National Arena in St Andrew as a field hospital “that will take some time to be realised”.

“Our priority really has to be that the sicker persons who really need to be in hospital are the ones accessing that type of facility. As we get more and more spread you are going to find that we won’t be able to have the persons with mild symptoms in hospital,” the CMO emphasised.

Already, she said, Jamaica has a few facilities “that are full with cases that are not yet confirmed, and also a lot cases of persons with very mild symptoms that don’t need to be in a hospital”.

Yesterday, Health Minister Dr Christopher Tufton, who also chaired the meeting, said “[I]t was never envisioned that every single positive case would be hospitalised; that is just not practical, and that’s not the case in any country around the world,” he said.

“We have a projection for over a million infected persons over a year, most of whom will have to be at home. So the issue then becomes if you are so infected what are the procedures,” Dr Tufton noted.

The comments were in response to queries raised by Government Member of Parliament for St Andrew East Rural Juliet Holness, on behalf of her constituents.

Said Dr Bisasor-McKenzie: “We have three deaths; third death occurred when the person was recovering well from COVID-19 and this is being investigated, but is thought to be the result of some cardiovascular-related incident. The other two deaths are COVID-related.”

In the meantime, she said up to April 6 eight people have recovered from COVID-19 and have been discharged, while there were 43 people in isolation in hospital — 10 who were asymptomatic and and two critically ill.

“We really regret to say that at least one of these persons is not doing too well, and we continue doing all that is necessary, and we are monitoring very closely”, the CMO said.

Jamaica has so far recorded 63 COVID-19 cases.

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