Jamaica’s Minister of Health and Wellness, Dr. Christopher Tufton, made an impassioned plea to Jamaicans to comply with the safety protocols after the island saw 878 new COVID-19 cases on Sunday.
The staggering numbers broke the record of 723 new cases on Saturday and 527 new cases on Friday.
Dr. Tufton later made an emotional appeal to the public, saying that while he acknowledges the government’s role in curbing the spread of the virus, much of the reason for the spike is due to undisciplined residents.
“I accept that the Government has a responsibility, but let us be clear that a lot of the spread that is taking place in this country is because too many of us are ignoring the need for personal responsibility,” he said in a social media video on Sunday.
The health minister stated further that every three in 10 persons tested were positive for the virus.
Tufton said the current COVID-19 trend means fewer available beds for sick patients in hospitals and more deaths.
“Let it sink in that our public health workers, our nurses, [and] our doctors are going to find it very difficult to cope with those who come in and need medical care.
“Let it sink in that it means longer waits, it means persons having to suffer for longer periods before they can get a bed, and generally speaking, a health system that is going to experience significant stress and fatigue,” Tufton stressed.
The health minister chastised those who have not been following the protocols.
“It must sink in that if you continue to have the parties [and] the ‘drink ups’, if you continue to ignore the protocols around gatherings and you congregate and you don’t wear the mask, then the chances of you getting the coronavirus are real, and the probability is increasing. And when you get to the hospital, the chances of you getting a bed are going to become less and less.
“Jamaicans, people will die! It’s as simple as that. I’m sorry if some persons are offended by this straight and plain talk. But I believe that it is very important that all of us appreciate and understand the consequences of our actions,” said Tufton.
The Minister’s comments were echoed by the island’s Chief Medical Officer, Jacqueline Bisasor McKenzie who provided the exact statistics concerning recent hospitalizations.
“Last week, we were seeing maybe about 40-something admissions per day. I noticed that yesterday [Sunday], it was 50-something admissions for the day. I’m hoping that won’t keep going up because if we have an average of 50 COVID-19 admissions per day, that will put a tremendous strain on the hospitals,” she said on Monday, while on a local radio program.
Both the health minister and the CMO say that it is unfair to expect the government to solve the worsening crisis without the participation of citizens. Dr. Tufton also reiterated that the government is not considering a national lockdown.