All public hospitals in Jamaica have suspended general services, and will now only be accepting emergency cases as the healthcare sector buckles under the pressure of the COVID-19 third wave.
In a release on August 26, the Ministry of Health and Wellness said that effective immediately, public hospitals islandwide “will be restricted to conducting emergency care services only. This comes as the public health facilities register continued increases in confirmed and suspected cases of COVID-19 infections that required hospitalisation. This has caused the facilities to exceed their COVID-19 isolation capacity.”
Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Jacquiline Bisasor McKenzie, “Most hospitals are over the capacity of beds designated for COVID-19 management. As such, general hospital beds are being used for COVID-19 care. The rising demand for oxygen also threatens to overwhelm the supply.”
At the same time, hospitals will suspend elective surgeries and begin discharging patients who can receive home care.
The Ministry advised Jamaicans that they should not visit any emergency department unless they require serious medical attention.
“We encourage persons to be compliant with their medications and to avoid being on the roads to avoid traffic accidents as hospitals will be constrained to deal with these kinds of emergencies,” the CMO added.
Up to Thursday, August 26, a record 739 positive COVID-19 patients were in hospital, of which 189 were moderately ill, 92 severely ill and 61 critically ill. There were another 320 patients suspected to have COVID-19 under hospital care.
The delta variant, which was confirmed on the island in August, is the dramatic spike in cases in Jamaica.
Jamaica currently has over 14,000 active cases of COVID-19. On August 23, the island broke its March 2021 record for the highest one-day total, with 879 new cases. The CMO predicted a one-day record of 1,000 new cases in the coming weeks, before the island begins to flatten its curve.
The health authorities have ramped up the campaign to get Jamaicans to get vaccinated, as the COVID-19 vaccines have proven to reduce the severity of illness and reduce hospitalisation and death.