Up to Tuesday, the parish of Trelawny had the sixth-highest number of COVID-19 cases in the country, and the fourth highest in western Jamaica.
Dr Diahann Dale, medical officer of health for Trelawny, speaking at a special COVID-19 briefing hosted by Minister of Health and Wellness Dr Christopher Tufton, revealed that as of December 16, 2020, the parish had recorded more than 300 cases of the infectious disease.
“The first case of COVID-19 was recorded in the parish on April 16, 2020. Since then, as of December 16, 2020, the parish has recorded 316 confirmed cases, with five of them transferred to other parishes, one repatriated, and 14 COVID-19-related deaths. So far, 258 persons have recovered and there are currently 38 active cases.
“All 38 active cases are in isolation, with 33 at home and five in hospital,” Dale said.
“On December 15, 2020, Trelawny ranked sixth highest in the country, with a cumulative COVID-19 case rate of 405.2 cases per 100,000 population, following the other western parishes — Westmoreland, St James, and Hanover.”
According to Dale, the active COVID-19 cases reside in 15 areas, among them Falmouth, Salt Marsh, Martha Brae, Bounty Hall, Granville, Bunkers Hill, Duanvale, Duncans, Spicy Hill, Clarks Town, Jackson Town, Stewart Town, Alps, St Vincent, and Ulster Spring.
In response, Councillor Dr Pauline Foster (People’s National Party, Ulster Spring Division) explained that many of the people living in southern Trelawny are not following the protocols because they believe that COVID-19 does not exist.
“When I go out in my community, I stop when I don’t see persons wearing masks. The issue is that unfortunately, a lot of people in my area, which is up in the hills, don’t really believe that COVID exists and that it is not serious; so they are not wearing masks or following the protocols because they believe that they are far away from it,” she explained.
Tova Hamilton, Member of Parliament for Trelawny Northern, shared her observation of people reusing disposable masks within her constituency.
“There are persons who are wearing disposable masks and are wearing the same mask repeatedly. They keep saying that they wash them and put them back on. I am appealing to them to try to acquire the reusable masks, even if it is one, and then you can wash it and wear it again. Repeating the disposable mask is not safe,” she pleaded.
To this end, Dr Tufton thanked all the stakeholders for their efforts, highlighted his concerns, and encouraged them to continue the fight against COVID-19.
“The belt from Westmoreland to St Ann creates a concern for the Ministry of Health and Wellness. The bed occupancy is high. Now is not the time for complacency, now is the time to be more resolute. As an elected representative, you know who are the influencers in your districts and your communities; and you know who the deviants are. We have to assert ourselves that all of us have a responsibility,” Tufton stated.