Persons with comorbidities are 96 times more likely to have moderate and severe illnesses and are more than 100 times more likely to die than persons without chronic illnesses if infected with COVID-19.
Chief Medical Officer (CMO), Dr Jacquiline Bisasor-McKenzie, explained some of the Ministry’s findings.
“Of the 557 persons we have documented to have comorbid illnesses and risk factors, 312 of these persons have cardiovascular diseases, including hypertension. Many have more than one comorbidity with a combination of cardiovascular disease and diabetes being quite common. The most common comorbidity and risk factor for death is age over 60 years,”
Dr Bisasor-McKenzie was speaking against the background of Heart Month 2021, which will be observed during the month of February, under the theme ‘COVID and Heart Disease’.
The Chief Medical Officer pointed out that national surveys have shown that a significant portion of elderly persons in Jamaica have comorbid illnesses, of which cardiovascular disease is the most common.
She explained that the Ministry of Health and Wellness has, therefore, prioritised prevention in these groups to avoid or reduce risk of exposure, such as insisting that such persons stay at home, wear their masks and maintain physical distance.
Dr Bisasor-McKenzie said the Disaster Risk Management Act specifically addresses elderly persons as having to stay at home and maintain precautions at all times.
“It is, therefore, important that these vulnerable groups ensure that they maximise their ability to fight the disease if they should become exposed, and this includes healthy lifestyle choices, exercise, diet, keeping well hydrated, rest and relaxation,”
“Care for your chronic illness with regular physical examinations. Compliance with medication, and timely and appropriate screening are important in order to ensure that you’re able to fight the disease if you should become exposed,”
Dr Bisasor-McKenzie also indicated that persons should seek care early.
“We have sought to decrease overcrowding in our clinics to promote persons coming to clinics,”
the CMO said, adding that the Ministry is also “increasing the use of telemedicine, increasing the length of prescriptions and instituting home delivery for medications for elderly persons”.