In a media release today, Dr. Guy pointed out that Health Minister Dr Christopher Tufton and the government must face the fact that they are failing to properly manage the COVID-19 testing protocol at the nation’s ports of entry and putting the Jamaican safety of the society at risk.
He said Minister Tufton has now admitted to his failure in ensuring that test results for incoming passengers are available within the promised time period of 48 hours. In some cases, persons that have visited the island submitted themselves to the testing protocol, and have since left the country without the benefit of the results of the tests.
Dr Guy said there are widespread reports of persons who have taken the test and are still in the island but are yet to receive follow-up contact from the Ministry of Health, despite providing all the relevant information.
The Shadow Minister said Minister Tufton has further indicated that the high volume of tests required has overwhelmed the country’s capacity. He said this fiasco could have been avoided with proper planning.
The Minister of Health and the Ministry of Health and Wellness ignored the recommendations from stakeholders in the sector, including the Medical Doctor Association that the best option for Jamaica remains pretesting at the point of embarkation. Pretesting would reduce or eliminate some of the challenges facing the country to test, trace and monitor the self-quarantine of those who have come for vacation or to visit family.
From the beginning, we were told that there was a limited number of kits available; so, to re-open the borders with the expectation of testing everyone was foolhardy, Dr Guy said.
“It seems that no one looked at the long-term implication of the re-opening the borders, the possible influx of hundreds of visitors versus the availability of supply of testing kits. This was not supposed to be a public relations exercise; it was supposed to be a serious attempt at protecting the Jamaican society from the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic,” the Shadow Minister said.
Dr Guy said the more than a two-week backlog of test results for persons entering the country is exceptionally troubling because many of the persons have been in contact with locals and have since left Jamaica without knowing their status. Asking persons to self-quarantine without following-up on their compliance, defeats the purpose of the testing regime.
He said other countries in the region have put in place systems requiring incoming passengers to show negative test results before boarding flights. Still, Jamaica chose to take on the testing, unnecessarily expanding our limited resources.
It is not too late to reverse course and require pretesting of all arriving passengers at the ports of embarkation while maintaining our assessment of these passengers, Dr Guy said.
The shadow Minister said the decision to revert to testing only persons with symptoms will not offer much protection to the society as persons who are carrying the virus and are asymptomatic still pose a threat.
“We need persons to demonstrate that they are not carriers of the Coronavirus before they enter our country and nothing else is acceptable,” Dr Guy declared.
- Countries: Jamaica
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