Contact tracing system solid, says Tufton

Contact tracing system solid, says Tufton

BY ALPHEA SAUNDERS
Senior staff reporter
saundersa@jamaicaobserver.com

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

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MINISTER of Health and Wellness Dr Christopher Tufton says he has confidence in the contact tracing system that is used by the ministry’s public health teams to track down persons who may have been exposed to COVID-19.

“It has worked successfully and is the envy of many countries around the world, born out of our primary health care. I have confidence in that process and where there are concerns, we can deal with it. [But] for the most part, the system has been very effective so I remain confident in the process and that it works,” he said in a Jamaica Observer interview yesterday.

He was speaking against the background of claims made by an individual who came forward last week, identifying himself to the Observer as the patient who was the initial source of the expanded cluster of COVID-19 cases which St Thomas is now experiencing.

The growth in the number of cases has led to the health ministry quarantining five communities in the parish to prevent further spread. The parish recorded 10 more new cases in a day on Sunday. Up to last Thursday there were 107 cases, 45 of them in the quarantine areas, the ministry said.

According to the man, who says he is originally from St Thomas but resides in St Catherine and returned to the eastern parish on the Independence weekend to visit family, reports that he went to church there to seek healing from the virus are incorrect. He further claimed that he and his relatives have been receiving threats and have been accused of sparking the contagion.

Dr Tufton, meanwhile, emphasised that the ministry engages in a rigorous investigative process to trace potential infections. “The process normally is that once you detect a positive case through testing, an interrogative process takes place and persons are questioned about their whereabouts to determine what is their immediate circle of contact and, therefore, potential spread. Those persons are [then] contacted and tested and a determination is made, and then they go to a secondary level of contacts depending on what happens there,” he explained.

The St Thomas communities of Bamboo River, Church Corner, Lower Summit, Albion and Seaforth remain under quarantine until September 2.

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