Dr Christopher Tufton says his ministry is taking necessary steps against coronavirus

Minister of Health and Wellness, Dr. Christopher Tufton

Ministry of Health and Wellness, Dr. Christopher Tufton said his Ministry is taking the necessary precautionary measures to protect the country against the coronavirus.

“Our first interest is in the protection of our citizens, and we will do whatever is necessary, will extend whatever resources are necessary, or take whatever decision is necessary to ensure our citizens are protected,” he said.

The Minister was addressing journalists at an emergency press conference this afternoon, following reports of a suspected coronavirus case at the University Hospital of the West Indies.

While refuting those reports, Dr. Tufton said his Ministry understands the seriousness of the issue and is being proactive.

“We take this very seriously as we believe it is better err on the side of caution in terms of taking a very proactive position,” he said.

Along with issuing a travel ban on China, the Ministry said quarantine facilities will be put in place.

“For persons in transit to Jamaica, our quarantine protocols will be put in place. Where persons will either be put in specially designed facilities, or within their home environment depending on the particular circumstances, and depending on the risk assessment that will be done,” he said.

Acting Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Karen Webster (right)

Acting Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Karen Webster also assured Jamaicans that the health personnel at the at the airports are well equipped to handle persons coming into the island. “The staffing that is there at the moment is adequate, because it’s a referral system. You are questioned by the security, and then referred as necessary,” she said.

Dr. Tufton added that his ministry has been having a series of meetings with the relevant agencies to coordinate the best strategy.

“We’ve had discussions with the Pan American Health Organisation, the technical team of the Ministry was present and those discussions revolved around the nature of the virus, the challenges at it relates to the spread, or the potential threats, and what we need to do to make the appropriate levels of preparation,” he said.

“We are and continue to be vigilant, we have monitoring the information coming out of countries that are affected, coming out out China from the authorities, and certainly from our multilateral partners,” he added.