CMO says Jamaica could reach fourth-wave peak by end of January/early February

KINGSTON, Jamaica — Chief Medical Officer (CMO), Dr Jacquiline Bisasor-McKenzie, said that Jamaica could reach the peak week of the fourth wave of the coronavirus (COVID-19) by the end of January/early February.

According to a release, Bisasor-McKenzie said the projections from the Ministry of Health and Wellness are that the country could see as many as 11,500 confirmed cases of COVID-19 during that peak week.

“We are seeing right across the world that with the Omicron [variant] it is proving to be a more transmissible virus and so the numbers are rapidly increasing in several countries, and we have started to see that here. Based on the projections, using the reproductive number, it could mean that we may take another three weeks or so to get to the peak of this fourth wave… based on the present numbers,” she said.

The CMO, who was addressing a recent press conference, further noted that “as the number of confirmed cases increase, the number of deaths can also increase in the region of 200 to 300 in that peak week.”

She said hospital occupancy due to COVID-19 is also expected to see a continued rise, noting that the number of occupied beds could “go way above the 1,200… in the third surge and could go up to almost 2,500 persons on beds”. The CMO also shared that another emerging trend is the increase in the number of children in hospital as a result of illness from the virus.

“The number of children in hospital is getting to be higher than we’ve ever had before…so this is something that we have to watch carefully,” she said.

Dr Bisasor-McKenzie also used the opportunity to reiterate the need for people to get vaccinated and to adhere to all the infection prevention and control measures.

“You have to wear your mask, maintain physical distance in crowded spaces (at least six feet) wash your hands frequently [and] hand sanitise. Stay home if you’re sick.”

“We are still seeing that wherever it is that we have a cluster of cases, it turns out that somebody who is sick did not stay home and spread the infection in the workplace and other areas. Stay home if you are sick, avoid unnecessary travel… and certainly avoid unnecessary gatherings at this time,” she said.

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