No need for panic! - Omicron does not have to ruin Christmas, says doctor

November 30, 2021

Jamaicans have been told not to panic in light of the emergence of Omicron, the newest COVID-19 variant.

Instead, Dr Brian James, president of the Medical Association of Jamaica (MAJ), has appealed to persons to follow the infection control protocols and to get vaccinated against the novel coronavirus. He has warned against the staging of events such as grand markets and parties, arguing that they are likely to be superspreader events.

"We do not know enough about this variant to actually start worrying about it. The fact is that it does not matter what the variant is, it is the same treatment, the same prevention for COVID-19 and it is very early days, in light of this variant, since it has been identified," James stressed.

The World Health Organization (WHO) yesterday said that the Omicron coronavirus variant carried a very high risk of infection surges and has a large number of mutations, some of which are concerning.

James said that with less than 20 per cent of Jamaica's population fully vaccinated, there is a high risk of seeing a fourth wave. He cautioned that the severity increases with a new wave, and the health sector resources are already strained and cannot accommodate additional transmissions should another wave hit.

"So, we should try to get the vaccination rate up to a level where the hospitals are protected and therefore that is the way forward to having a good Christmas," the MAJ head said.

In the meantime, Donovan Wignall, president of the Micro-Small-and Medium-Sized Enterprises Alliance, said that it is possible for Jamaicans to have a good Yuletide season despite the wavering of a new variant.

"Our vaccination rate is very low but I am hoping that the continued public relations around the whole matter and public relations that will cause persons to be more trusting of the vaccine and the message around the vaccine, I'm hoping that will be ramped up," Wignall said.

Jamaica has administered 1,108,000 doses of vaccine to just over 666,400 people. Approximately 510,000 persons or 17 per cent of the targeted population has been vaccinated against the virus that has been confirmed to have infected 91,222 persons and killing 2,391 on the island.

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