We are further along than numbers indicate – National Epidemiologist

The running tally of the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases is merely a reflection of past actions, and Jamaica is actually “further along than we are picturing now” warns Principal Medical Officer and National Epidemiologist, Dr Karen Webster Kerr. 

“We’re seeing more and more cases that are coming up without links, so it is telling us that we’re having more and more local transmission of cases and the numbers are getting larger and larger,” said Webster Kerr during tonight’s [April 22] briefing by the Ministry of Health and Wellness. “So there is obviously a signal going out to all of us [about] what we are dealing with. And what we are seeing now is the effects of two weeks ago.”

The press briefing focused on the need for Jamaicans to prepare themselves for the community spread of the virus, and the reality that many who test positive will not be hospitalised but will need to self-isolate at home. 

During the briefing, the point was again made that many  Jamaicans will get the virus and there simply are not enough resources to have them all hospitalized. The goal, said Minister of Health and Wellness Dr Christopher Tufton, is to have managed spread of the disease to prevent it overwhelming the country’s hospitals as it has done in other parts of the world. 

According to Chief Medical Officer Dr Jacquiline Bisasor-McKenzie, in Jamaica the majority of the people infected so far have experienced only mild symptoms. This, she said, may be because they are younger persons. She warned, however, that the danger was in them infecting high-risk groups such as older persons with underlying health issues.

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