Jamaicans are being cautioned against bypassing medical assessment and going directly to private laboratories for COVID-19 tests.
Chief Medical Officer (CMO) Dr Jacquiline Bisasor McKenzie made the call yesterday for the public to adhere to the protocols for testing, as it is part of the management of cases, and allows the Government to get a clear picture of the country’s COVID-19 status.
The CMO was speaking at the Ministry of Health and Wellness’s weekly ‘COVID-19 Conversations’ update which are held virtually.
“Many persons are going straight to some facilities to have testing done. They do not have an interaction with a doctor and so what is happening is that we have persons who may have symptoms who are going straight to laboratories or other places, having tests done, and then present to the health department with a positive test,” she stated.
The CMO insisted that if people are having signs or symptoms of COVID-19 they should visit a doctor who can properly instruct them even before test results are returned.
She pointed out that in some instances results are not being reported.
“We are also having the situation where persons are getting back a positive test and choosing not to report, and we need to have information if it is we are going to manage this public health emergency that we are in,” she emphasised.
Dr Bisasor McKenzie pointed out that any lab approved by the ministry should report results to the ministry.
“It’s not good enough only to report positive cases, we need to know the negative cases as well, so that we can really see what the burden of disease is,” she said.
She also noted that there are still problems with stigma, which is affecting the work of the public health teams on the ground.
“In our community activities over the last couple of weeks our team members have been faced with the issue of stigma, with persons refusing to be tested because they have been threatened. Persons who have been tested have been told, ‘Don’t mek it come back positive,’ and it is not allowing us to get a good handle of what is happening in some of these communities that we have gone into because persons are not coming out to be tested,” she stated.
The CMO appealed residents to cooperate with the health teams and make themselves available.
“Remember that it is a good thing when your community is selected for intervention, because there is a recognition that there is a problem, and what we want to do is to prevent that problem from getting worse,” she stressed.
The country has recorded 9,373 cases of COVID-19 since March. Of that number, 687 were confirmed between October 21 and November 4, while 499 were imported.
A total of 4,742 people have recovered from the virus, while 215 patients have died.
The ministry is warning that, although cases have been consistently trending down over the past month, it is important for every community to remain cognisant of the fact that they have had active cases and that the virus is still very much a threat.
Dr Bisasor McKenzie said that, while the trend is positive, Jamaicans must remember that situations happen in other countries that can have an impact.
“In neighbouring countries we see the numbers going up, and in countries where persons travel a lot to Jamaica from, we see the number of cases going up. It means that there is the potential for exposure and spread,” she said.