No local spread of COVID-19 since June 1, says CMO

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JAMAICANS remain wary of the continued increase in COVID-19 cases, however Chief Medical Officer (CMO) Dr Jacquiline Bisasor McKenzie has pointed out that all the positive cases recorded since June 1 are not local spread but rather people coming into the country or their contacts.

At a virtual Ministry of Health and Wellness press conference yesterday, the CMO noted that the number of people who are contacts of these imported cases remain low.

“After about the 25th of May we have not had anymore, either cases related to Alorica or…any locally transmitted cases. We have cases that are under investigation and those may turn out to be local transmission, but so far they still would represent a minority of the cases that we are seeing,” she explained.

As of yesterday, the number of confirmed cases was 824. Of that number, 324 were imported, 246 were contacts of imported cases, 44 were local transmissions, 14 are under investigation, and 236 from the Alorica call centre — referred to by the health authorities as a workplace cluster — in Portmore, St Catherine.

“Essentially it means that in terms of containing the infection as a country we are doing well,” Dr Bisasor McKenzie said. “What this speaks to is the importance of quarantine, because these cases have come from outside but they have not been spreading, except outside of the small number of imported cases. This is quarantine — this is the result of people staying at home. All these imported cases have resulted in very little spread because of quarantine.”

There are 20,784 people in quarantine across the island, the majority (20,749) of whom are in home quarantine.

At the same time, Health and Wellness Minister Dr Christopher Tufton said the COVID-19 numbers are not absolute and that some signs exist which give cause for concern regarding cases that are under investigation.

“That does suggest that there are no clear links as yet, and that could mean many things…we have seen a few cases of people turning up at the hospital to do surgery and being tested positive, which means they could’ve picked it up somewhere and it’s not immediately clear,” he said.

“There are other numbers out there, I’m sure, that we do not know about. What we report does not reflect the totality of the concerns on the spread of the virus.”

The health minister said he was therefore urging Jamaicans and other residents to adhere to the disaster risk management orders, particularly the most recent set of orders issued earlier this week specific to the upcoming Independence and Emancipation holidays. He urged people to remain vigilant and to minimise gatherings, or to stay at home.

The health ministry says 724 people have recovered from the virus, 46 visitors who tested positive have since left the island, and 579 tests were done between Tuesday and yesterday.

— Alphea Saunders

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