Minister of Health Dr. Christopher Tufton is assuring residents in the vicinity of the St. Joseph’s Hospital in St. Andrew that the decision to use the institution as a quarantine facility will not endanger their lives.
Speaking a press briefing at the ministry’s New Kingston offices on Monday (Feb. 10), Tufton said he understood the concerns of residents of Vineyard Town and surrounding communities while explaining that he was in communication with Member of Parliament for the area, Julian Robinson, on the issue. He said a meeting with residents is to be had within the next 24 hours.
As he sought to allay fears that Jamaicans who returned from China and are suspected to have the Wuhan coronavirus would be quarantined at St Joseph’s, the minister said that local officials would never put the lives of residents at risk. He explained that the facility was considered due to resources and infrastructure already at its disposal.
“The ministry as part of our collaborative monitoring and management of the risk associated with the new coronavirus, is expanding the island’s capacity to quarantine individuals returning to Jamaica from China. The designation of St Joseph’s Hospital as one such facility forms a critical part of those efforts,” he added. “We note the concerns of residents over the designation of the hospital for this very important purpose and will make ourselves available to answer any questions or otherwise address any lingering issues they may have.”
In the meantime, Tufton explained that the ministry is eyeing similar quarantine facilities for the western end of Jamaica, and at a time when those locations have been confirmed and resourced, they will be made public.
The news follows an earlier announcement that one Jamaican has been moved from quarantine to isolation on Sunday, after medical personnel recorded an elevated temperature.
The patient, who was not identified and whose location was not disclosed marked the second such case of isolation of Jamaicans returning from China – the epicentre of the deadly Wuhan coronavirus.