Jamaicans, especially the younger population, are again being urged to protect the society’s most vulnerable by adhering to the infection prevention and control measures implemented by the Government to control the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19).
Minister of Health and Wellness, Dr Christopher Tufton, made the appeal in light of statistics showing that while the younger age cohorts have the most COVID-19 infections, it is the older population who are getting severely ill and dying from the disease.
“We see our older population who are ending up, for the most part, in our hospitals caused by them picking up the virus and more often than not, it’s being transmitted by the younger population. The 20 to 29 age group are the ones who are most infected, and the ones who are dying most are those that are over 60,”
“We really have to ask ourselves, ‘are we willing to sacrifice our parents, our grandparents, our aunts, our uncles, our senior family members for the opportunity to mingle without the mask, not obeying the protocols?’,”
The Minister was addressing the weekly virtual COVID-19 Conversations press briefing on Tuesday (March 23).
Dr Tufton contended that persons complain when the restrictions are imposed, noting “the reality is that… these [infections] are self-inflicted wounds and it is extremely costly… it is costing lives”.
Meanwhile, Chief Medical Officer (CMO), Dr Jacquiline Bisasor-McKenzie, said most of the positive COVID-19 cases are recorded among the 20 to 29 and 30 to 39 age groups, noting this suggests that within these cohorts, “there is still quite a bit of movement [and] quite a bit of exposure and infections”.
“It is important for us to recognise that [in these age groups] many persons will not get symptoms. So they do not appear to be COVID-positive and, therefore, they may not be taking the precautions; they are not adhering to the restrictions,”
Against this background, the CMO said the potential of spread to the older age group with whom they may come in contact “is a very real possibility”.
“That is where we are finding that those persons, although less of them are being infected, the majority of those that are infected that lead to severe illness, fall in that age group,”
Citing a recent survey conducted among this age cohort, Dr Bisasor-McKenzie pointed out that one in four persons still attends public gatherings such as parties.
“So that means… if 23 per cent of persons are still attending, that’s a considerable number of persons who are still attending gatherings and having opportunity for spread,” she said.
Additionally, the study revealed that one in five persons was attending private gatherings with 15 or more individuals, and one in eight have been to bars, nightclubs and other places of amusement.
Dr Bisasor-McKenzie said the Ministry’s observation surveys are showing that persons are not wearing their masks properly, noting that they are wearing them on their chins or heads, or did not have them properly fitted over the nose and mouth.
To date, a total of 36,670 Jamaicans have been infected by COVID-19, resulting in more than 545 deaths.