Health Minister confident Jamaica prepared to handle new coronavirus

Minister of Health and Wellness Christopher Tufton (left) tests a handheld thermal scanner on Public Health Nurse, Deborah Udo Udo, during a tour of the isolation unit at the Norman Manley International Airport (NMIA) in Kingston on Thursday. (Photo: Michael Sloley, JIS)

Health and Wellness Minister, Dr. Christopher Tufton, says the country is in a state of readiness for the coronavirus.

Following a tour of isolation facilities and equipment at the National Chest Hospital and the Norman Manley International Airport (NMIA) on Thursday (January 30), Dr. Tufton said that the country has what is necessary to guard against the infectious disease, both at the hospital level and at the ports of entry.

Dr. Tufton looks around the isolation unit at the Norman Manley International Airport. (Photo: Michael Sloley, JIS)

 “I’m very comfortable that we have the personnel and we have the infrastructure… to scan, to monitor and to deal with the threat that the coronavirus is presenting now for the world. There are always margins of error; of course, these things will always include some risk, but… I saw [the facilities] for myself today and I’m satisfied,” Dr. Tufton said.

Dr. Tufton tours the isolation room at the National Chest Hospital in St. Andrew on Thursday (Photo: Donald De La Haye, JIS)

The two-room isolation unit at the National Chest Hospital was originally designed to manage two cases of multidrug-resistant tuberculosis.

Dr. Tufton said that while every hospital has an isolation area, the Chest Hospital remains the specialist institution to deal with respiratory ailments.

Minister Tufton (left), converses with Chief Medical Officer, National Chest Hospital, Dr. Terry Baker, during a tour of the isolation room at the hospital. (Photo: Donald De La Haye, JIS)

Meanwhile at NMIA, the minister got first-hand experience with the thermal and handheld fever scanners being used at the airports.

He also toured the NMIA’s isolation unit consisting of a total of six beds in three rooms.

— JIS