As Jamaicans wait to find out if Prime Minister Andrew Holness will extend the current COVID-19 restrictions, the island’s medical association has called on the government to extend the weekend lockdowns.
The final of three lockdowns announced by Holness in March ended on April 12. But Dr. Andrew Manning, the President of the Medical Association of Jamaica, says that the current COVID-19 measures, including the lockdowns, need to be expended to ease the pressure hospitals are currently facing.
“Because of where we are in terms of the hospital numbers, we simply cannot afford to have the numbers of new cases go up again,” Dr. Manning said while on Nationwide Radio.
“We recognize that there is a balancing act but at this point in time, I think we need to continue these measures because the hospitals still are under pressure.”
Last month, the Minister of Health and Wellness, Dr. Christopher Tufton reported that thirteen hospitals, including Kingston Public and the University Hospital, had exceeded 100% of their COVID-19 isolation capacity. Tufton said that this was the clearest indicator of the healthcare system being overwhelmed.
The stricter measures have helped to decrease the daily COVID-19 numbers. Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Jacquiline Bisasor McKenzie, says the data on new cases suggest that there is a plateauing in the number of new infections.
But Dr. Manning says the rate of hospitalization is still at an unsatisfactory level, “because of the limited number of beds that we have available.”
The MAJ President has also urged the government to implement a system that will allow residents to access food and other necessities before the lockdowns, without having to gather in crowds.
“I think we need to continue with the measures. But I think we need to find a way, so that at the start of the lockdowns, persons are able to get basic supplies without having to form crowds.”
Prime Minister Holness is expected to announce whether or not the current COVID-19 restrictions will be extended in the coming days. Last week, Holness had warned that if the weekend lockdown was not successful in bringing down the numbers, even stricter restrictions would be announced.