Dr. Guy says the entire testing regime appears now to be on autopilot which is guaranteed to spread the disease faster and wider afield, exposing vulnerable groups to the possibility of death.
“Currently there is no testing of persons who have been exposed to positive cases; very limited, if any contact tracing is taking place; there is no testing of asymptomatic persons, and there is no fast-track available to frontline health care workers who have been exposed to the virus. And the wait time for persons who have tested positive is way too long,” Dr Guy said.
Based on the decision by the National Public Health Laboratory to accept only 400 samples per day for testing, it means that even the high numbers do not represent what we are currently dealing with at the hospitals.
“We have been told that we have the capacity to test over 3000 samples per day, therefore, testing samples of 400 fall well below 25 percent of our capacity. For this reason, I believe we have lost the battle to safeguard the nation from the spread, and we are now like sitting ducks,” Dr Guy said.
This government has lost control over the spread of the virus and has admitted to reduced capacity to test, yet they have continued to prevent private facilities from doing any testing.
With more than 100 new cases per day and the number of deaths averaging over two per day, this crisis needs urgent and strict management.
Dr Guy said the idea put forward by Minister of Health, Dr Christopher Tufton that the coronavirus management of testing can be treated in the same vein as the dengue virus is unacceptable. In the case of coronavirus, it is only through testing, isolating suspected cases and contact tracing that a reduction in the spread can be achieved. Therefore, the management of the coronavirus must be a deliberate strategy to engage communities and enforce protocols, Dr Guy said.
With the country now experiencing a 100% increase in deaths in just over fourteen (14) days, it would behove the government to follow the latest advice of the Pan-American Health Organization’s (PAHO), issued yesterday for countries within the region, including Jamaica, to do more testing, isolating of suspected cases and contact tracing as the best strategy to stem the spread of the pandemic.
Dr Guy is calling on the government to take control of the situation urgently as critical care hospital beds are in short supply, and the public health care system cannot manage the increases.
“Jamaicans cannot just be sent home with the virus to live or die. The government is expected to provide the necessary framework and resources to save the lives of both the healthcare workers and the population. This game of roulette with the lives of the people of Jamaica is unacceptable,” the health spokesman said.
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