Health Ministry to donate 100,000 masks to private practitioners

April 09, 2020
PHOTO: DONALD DE LA HAYE Minister of Health and Wellness, Dr. the Hon. Christopher Tufton, speaking at a digital press conference on Tuesday (April 7). At right is Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Jacquiline Bisasor McKenzie.

The Minister of Health and Wellness will be donating 100,000 N95 masks to private practitioners to support their work in the fight against the coronavirus (COVID-19).

Portfolio Minister, Dr. Christopher Tufton, made the disclosure on Tuesday, April 7, during a digital press conference at the Ministry’s office in New Kingston.

The N95 masks are designed to filter out 95 per cent of small airborne particles, thereby offering protection against contamination.

During the press conference, the Minister signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with President of the Medical Association of Jamaica (MAJ), Dr. Andrew Manning, to formalise the support.

“It is important for us that they (private practitioners) remain active. We are very encouraged by the leadership of members who have expressed and continue to give support to these efforts. So we have decided to contribute to encourage and to partner with the Medical Association of Jamaica through the donation of these 100,000 N95 masks,” he said.

Tufton said the Government has spent US$2.2 million to procure the masks, which are vital personal protection gear for healthcare professionals in safeguarding themselves against the virus.

“We just had some 500,000 arrive in the island recently, and it is from that supply that we’re making our 100,000 donation and we expect additional supplies to come,” he noted.

Meanwhile, the Health Minister said that the retrofitting of the National Arena as a 72-bed field hospital to house persons with mild cases of COVID-19 should be completed within two to three weeks.

The work is being spearheaded by the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF).

“We’re currently in the process of sensitising staff. The goal is to have only those who are mildly affected by COVID-19 treated at that facility,”Tufton noted.

The initiative, which is being undertaken in partnership with the Ministry of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, will cost $180 million.

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