The Jamaican government's response to the novel coronavirus disease (Covid-19) outbreak is being praised by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and America's top diplomat on the island.
The commendations came as the island completed work on a Covid-19 isolation ward at University Hospital of the West Indies and the same day that Prime Minister Andrew Holness and Health and Wellness Minister Dr Christopher Tufton announced new measures.
They included crowd restrictions to no more than 20 people, the closure of bars, nightclubs, and other entertainment venues, all designed to stem the spread of the virus.
“Thank you so much for your leadership — and preparedness — for #COVID19, @christufton. #Jamaica Being ready for #coronavirus is key to pushing it back fast. Together, for a safer world!,” WHO Director General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus posted on Twitter.
United States Ambassador to Jamaica Donald Tapia said in a tweet: “We want to congratulate the GoJ and the MoHW for its timely reporting of COVID-19 cases and aggressive containment strategy. The MoHW (Ministry of Health and Wellness) has shown that one of the best defences is appropriate public sensitization on preventative methods and the importance of early case recognition.”
The UHWI isolation ward features beds, ventilators, monitoring mechanisms and all relevant equipment. The facility has 13 beds, five of which are in cubicles equipped with ventilators for patients in need of respiratory assistance. A sanitiser station is also placed at a central spot for easy access.
Dr Tufton said that while other hospitals have one or two rooms, they have been asked to establish a similar ward and work is in progress.
Jamaica announced its first Covid-19 death on Wednesday, a 79-year-old man who had recently returned from New York. The man died in an isolation ward at the Mandeville Hospital in Manchester. The man had pre-existing health conditions of diabetes and hypertension. Jamaica has 20 confirmed cases of the virus at press time.