PNP says Gov’t lacks transparency in COVID-19 reporting

THE Opposition People’s National Party (PNP) says it has lost confidence in the COVD-19 data reporting being provided by the Government, claiming that the Administration is failing to protect Jamaicans and is deepening the public health risk with crowded businessplaces and a rush on public transportation.

“We have given this Government every benefit of the doubt and, in the national interest, we have supported their efforts. However, enough is enough. We can no longer trust that the Holness-Tufton communications and reporting on the COVID-19 cases in Jamaica are accurate, and we do not believe the prime minister and the health minister are being transparent with the people of Jamaica,” said Dr Morais Guy, the PNP’s shadow minister of health.

“The case definition or standards being used to determine who is tested is off, and we are not convinced they are testing enough or at a rate that is required to accurately inform decisions,” added Guy. He alleged that there “seems to be an intentional creep on testing and a slow release of information to create an impression that all is well”.

“We now have the ability to do 2,000 tests per day, then why [are] Prime Minister Holness and Health Minister Tufton failing for over a week to provide the test results for 600+ samples Jamaica has taken?” asked Guy.

Government, which recently acquired a new machine, has stepped up its testing and said Monday there were no outstanding test results.

The Opposition, in a release yesterday, did not elaborate on what way the Government was failing or in what way it was lacking transparency, although its briefs the nation in live broadcasts at least twice weekly and releases a daily summary of COVID-19 cases.

“… Prime Minister Holness and Minister of Health Dr Tufton are failing us. The number of COVID-19 cases will soon pass 600 with‎ no clear national strategy to protect the groups most at risk. Acting after the fact, low testing, and ignoring the capacity of the private health sector to help us through private labs and surveillance are major gaps in their management. Our economic recovery depends on our health security,” said Dr Shane Alexis, the PNP’s caretaker for St Mary South Eastern.

PNP General Secretary Julian Robinson also claimed that “Prime Minister Holness and Health Minister Tufton are failing the people of Jamaica. We are seeing continued spread [of COVID-19 cases] and in fact some of the measures [implemented by Government] are putting persons at heightened risk.”

“On a daily basis, thousands of workers are in a mad dash to buy groceries, conduct their business or simply get home. This does not support social distancing, which is required to reduce the spread of the virus,” said Robinson, who represents the St Andrew South Eastern constituency.

The PNP has called for:

1. A regular and consistent timing of COVID-19 reporting, at the same time each day or week to give an accurate picture of infection rate. It said this should include number tested, positive, negatives, symptomatic versus asymptomatic and location.

2. An immediate expansion of the case definition to include: random testing, all respiratory symptom patients and all deaths in hospitals — both private and public — so there can be an accurate view of COVID-19 related deaths.

3. Testing every 14 days for all health-care providers on front-line duty.

4. A review of the provision and management of mass transit and the safe provision of services essential to life to ensure social distancing and hygiene.

5. A revisit of business operating hours to ensure that persons have more time to access goods and services.

6. Immediate expansion and involvement of the private sector health centres for surveillance of respiratory cases and the inclusion of ISO-certified private labs in the provision and processing of COVID-19 tests to assist in the fight.


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