Jamaicans alarmed as spike puts two COVID wards at capacity

As Jamaica’s coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic continues to grow, one other indicator of just how dire the situation could become has been laid bare.

An increase in the number of CVID-19 cases in Jamaica has seen two of the island’s COVID wards hit their capacity.

Two of the nation’s hospitals, the University Hospital of the West Indies (UHWI) in St Andrew and the Princess Margaret Hospital in St Thomas have seen their COVID-19 wards reach capacity as outbreaks in those parishes continue to push their figures. Interestingly, the news comes just days after the UHWI said moved to dispel discussions in the public sphere that its COVID ward was at capacity.

The revelation was made by the Ministry of Health and Wellness last evening, August 26, when it shared that the country also recorded 72 new cases of the virus, pushing the island’s total to 1,804 including 19 deaths.

More than a third of the nation’s beds dedicated to the treatment of COVID-19 patients are already in use with 107 are occupied with another 200 still available.

Minister of Health and Wellness, Dr Christopher Tufton, spoke with the Jamaica Observer regarding the demands on the UHWI. “UHWI has a fair [share] of demand on the system, not just COVID- related but demands for other services, and those have affected the whole capacity of the hospital. They are making some provisions to create additional space. The KPH challenge is as a result of the positive cases that were discovered there, and the fact that part of the contact tracing is to identify persons who would have come in contact with those cases. It involves some quarantining of persons who otherwise would have been working, so it has affected the human resource capacity. They are two different reasons but they have had a similar impact,” he said.

The possibility of seeing the health system overwhelmed, a concern shared by a well-known doctor on the weekend, as each passing day brings double-digit case confirmations, has caused trepidation for many.

The developments have sent some Jamaicans into panic as many took to social media to share disappoint with the handling of and concern over the growing pandemic.

With more than 860 active cases on the island and some 30,134 persons of interest quarantined at home, it has left many wondering if the increased control measures announced Monday are enough.

However, the ministry sought to allay fears in its daily COVID-19 update last evening by sharing that necessary protocols and logistics are in place should the need arise to transfer or admit patients to a any facility in the public health system.

Jamaica has recorded 514 coronavirus cases in the past week alone, including a new daily high of 120 cases last Tuesday, August 25.