Party breaches worry health officials

July 09, 2021
Dr Christopher Tufton
Dr Christopher Tufton

Videos and photographs of people at entertainment events have been making the rounds on social and traditional media and tongues have been wagging; not so much about the reopening of the entertainment sector but rather due to the fact that people appear to be ignoring the COVID-19 protocols.

Patsy Edwards-Henry, president of the Nurses Association of Jamaica (NAJ), has seen at least one video and is concerned that trouble could be on the horizon.

"The NAJ and the nurses in particular are extremely disappointed with this level of behaviour because we realise that the Government has put the protocols in place as we try to return to normal. COVID is not over, it is still here, and we still need to protect not only ourselves but those around us," Edwards-Henry said.

The entertainment sector, which was in lockdown for nearly a year, was reopened on July 1. Prime Minister Andrew Holness, in announcing the reopening, said that adherence to the health protocols was of paramount importance.

Edwards-Henry has sought to remind Jamaicans that the country is still recovering from a deadly second wave which had forced the Government to impose a series of weekend lockdowns in an attempt to contain the spread. She said that a third wave could have a devastating effect and has moved to caution party-hungry Jamaicans to adhere to protocols put in place.

"We saw what we went through when we had that second wave, with the hospitals being sent into red zones, overflowing, overworked nurses and burnt-out staff," stated Edwards-Henry.

Health officials around the world have been forced to respond to a new strain of the COVID-19 virus, which has been found to be highly transmissible. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the United States of America, said that the rise in the variant, called delta, is "rapid" and "troubling".

As of Wednesday, 1,108 persons had died from COVID-19 in Jamaica. Worldwide there have been four million deaths.

New strain

"It is really disappointing to see the behaviour of some of our people. They are behaving as if COVID is over. What they need to understand is that the new strain, which is here, is much more serious than the original strain. It doesn't exhibit as fever and cough but it spread much more easily, and based on the understanding the effects are more devastated," Edwards-Henry said.

Health Minister Dr Christopher Tufton said that it is important that Jamaicans follow the protocols that have so far brought the positivity rate for the disease down to five per cent, from a high of 40 per cent at the time of the second wave.

"We have consistently said each decision on relaxation comes with risks, and so it's going to be important for personal responsibility and compliance with the protocols. If we don't then the consequences could lead to spread of the virus and further restrictions. I hope, as Jamaicans, we understand the consequences of our actions," Tufton said.

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