KINGSTON, Jamaica – Jamaica’s Chief Medical Officer (CMO), Dr. Jacquiline Bisasor-McKenzie, has warned that in spite of the relaxation of some of the measures by the Government in the fight against the coronavirus (COVID-19), the outbreak is not over.
Speaking during a recent “think tank”, the CMO said that in her experience with the management of infections, people generally become desensitised over time, and this leads to a level of complacency.
“Persons are of the view that because some of the restrictions have been relaxed, the outbreak is over, but it is not. We have to recognise that there are persons who will have symptoms and persons who will not, and there is the possibility of transmission in both cases,” she said.
The CMO pointed out that an analysis of the cases to date has shown that it is the symptomatic cases that are driving the infection, as those are the ones that are having contacts that are testing positive.
She warned that persons may by treating symptoms with medication and effectively hiding the fact that they are carrying the virus.
“You don’t know, for example, if someone in the line at the bank with you has COVID-19, you don’t know if they were infectious outside the building. If they were symptomatic outside of the building and they are not coughing now, you don’t know if they have taken an antihistamine to stop the sore throat or some Panadol to stop the fever,” the CMO said. “
We know that it is the symptomatic persons that are driving the infection,” she added, pointing out that those persons are expected to wear masks.
“They are emitting the virus and so they must wear masks to prevent exposure to other persons. Persons that are in their surroundings should also wear masks to decrease the likelihood of them becoming exposed.”
She argued that since persons will not always know who has it, they must protect themselves against exposure by maintaining physical distancing and wearing a mask.
She pointed out that with almost 700 cases in the country and the possibility of each of those persons exposing somebody else, this is the time to be extra vigilant.
“There are many persons who may be asymptomatic in the country, which means there is a possibility of exposure, so everybody has to do their best to adhere to all the infection prevention and control measures,” the CMO said.
These include wearing masks when out in public, especially in crowded areas; extreme vigilance for vulnerable persons, which include persons over 60 years; persons who have diseases or other infections that can compromise their immune systems, and persons with chronic illnesses, especially if they have two or more comorbid illnesses.