The leader of Jamaica’s main opposition People’s National Party (PNP) Dr. Peter Phillips, has called on the Jamaica government to immediately take steps to equip the public health sector to deal with the increasing number of coronavirus (COVID-19) cases.
Jamaica recorded 102 new COVID-19 cases over the last 24 hours bringing to 2,459 the total number of positives for the island. There are now 1,476 active cases being monitored, including 14 moderately ill persons and six who are critically ill.
In a statement, Phillips also accused Prime Minister Andrew Holness for not tightening COVID-19 restrictions over the Emancipation and Independence weekend.
“The worst act of political irresponsibility ever seen in Jamaica since Independence has been the decision of Andrew Holness to reject the advice of the health professionals leading up to the Emancipation and Independence weekend.
“The consequence of his failure to tighten the curfew and the restrictions then has been to see this wave of further infections, which is paralysing the country and sending so many people to hospital,” Phillips said.
He said that there is now chaos in the hospitals, “with the scarcity of medicine, shortage of staff, basic equipment and supplies, the increasing number of COVID-19 cases pose an ominous threat to the country”.
Phillip said that hospital sources have reported that there are large numbers of people, who suspect that they are infected with the virus, showing up at health facilities. The Opposition Leader said these people are not able to receive assistance due to the lack of personnel in addition to the COVID-19 wards being filled to capacity.
“The health facilities must be properly equipped as a matter of urgency. This means much more than PR; concrete steps must be taken to widen the capabilities through the setting up of a field hospital, better equipping our health care system, and employing more frontline workers where they are required and available.”
Phillips said that public education programme on basic home care must begin immediately, so that people in isolation have information on a course of action to prevent them from falling gravely ill.
He also noted that the British government has recently added Jamaica to a list of countries where British Nationals need a 14-day quarantine regime on return home. This was done because of the current spike in COVID cases.
“It is not a good sign that we have descended to this. There are serious implications for the economy and the country’s perception as a safe destination at this time.
“The fact that the spike is increasing as we prepare for the national poll, not due until next year, demonstrates that this administration was focused on power and public relations, and not on the true welfare of the Jamaican people,” Phillips said, cautioning voters and Jamaicans in general to heed the basic guidelines for safety.
Jamaicans go to the polls on Thursday to elect a new government.