Right Steps & Poui Trees


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Three Covid Press Releases (April 13 -21, 2022 – One OPM, Two MOHW) & A Bit More

The Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) Press Release – Wednesday, April 13, 2022

It wasn’t a surprise that some of the Covid-19 protocols were allowed to expire; the government had been signaling the intention to further relax the measures required. I don’t think it was a wise move to remove the mask mandate for enclosed spaces that the public has access to. It was also odd that whereas the mask mandate was removed for people in enclosed spaces, it is still required that people sanitize their hands before entering those enclosed spaces…when what we are dealing with is an airborne virus.

It was interesting that the announcement of the decision not to extend the pre-testing and masking requirements under the Public Health Act order was made via a press release from OPM, though the Public Health (Enforcement Measures) (Coronavirus COVID-19) Order, 2022 was issued by the Minister of Health & Wellness.

Ministry of Health & Wellness (MOHW) Press Release – Tuesday, April 19, 2022

With the requirement to wear masks in enclosed spaces coming to an end on April 15, 2022, on April 19, 2022 the MOHW issued a press release informing the public that masks would still be required in all health facilities, as would protocols for hand washing and physical distancing. The Ministry outlined its reasons for this.

Ministry of Health & Wellness (MOHW) Press Release – Thursday, April 21, 2022

On April 21, 2022, the MOHW informed the country that the Omicron BA.2 variant had been identified in 2 of 88 samples tested at the National Influenza Centre at the University Hospital of the West Indies. However, the samples were collected between January 1 – March 4, 2022, making them one and a half to three and a half months old by the time of reporting. So we know Omicron BA.2 is in Jamaica, but these sample results tell us very little about the situation in the country now, in mid-to-late April.

I wonder why the genome sequencing results we are getting from local testing are for such old samples. Is this the length of time the sequencing will normally take? Or has there been some glitch in the process that is causing the delayed results? Are any current samples being tested? If so, when will we get those results? It would be disappointing if we now have the capacity to test locally but are getting results with as long a delay as when we were sending samples to CARPHA, PAHO or CDC for sequencing.

COVID-19 data from MOHW for the past two weeks – April 14 – 27, 2022

The daily Covid-19 reports from MOHW are showing an upward trend, which is obviously cause for concern. Today’s report showed 115 confirmed cases in 24 hours, the first time since February 13, 2022 that the number has been over 100; that day there were 109 confirmed cases. And the positivity rate has now gone into double digits again; the last time it was in double digits was on February 16, 2022, when it was 10.3%. It has been above the recommended 5% for most of the past two weeks.

MOHW Covid-19 press conference today, Thursday, April 28, 2022

Perhaps the upward trend in the Covid-19 data is the reason for the press conference that has been called by the MOHW for this evening. Perhaps the intention is to reassure the country that the hospital system is able to cope with the expected increase in cases and to encourage people to follow the preventative protocols and to get vaccinated. I don’t know what else is on the agenda and if there will be any unexpected announcements or information.

Something I would like to hear more about is what is happening with Long Covid in Jamaica – what follow-up is being done, what data is being collected, what such data is showing, what support is being offered to people with Long Covid. We really need more information to be shared with the public…with individuals dealing with Long Covid, their families, schools, workplaces. Unfortunately, I am not very hopeful that this will be on the agenda.


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But The Samples Tested Are 2-3 Months Old, Ministry of Health & Wellness…

Yesterday (April 11, 2022), the Ministry of Health & Wellness (MOHW) sent out a press release titled “Omicron BA1 Remains Dominant Covid-19 Strain in Jamaica”. When you read the release, you see that this statement is based on samples collected 2-3 months ago, between January 5 – February 12, 2022. So whereas the results say something about the situation at that point in time, they don’t say much about the situation now, in the second week in April.

“The Omicron BA1 strain of the COVID-19 virus continues to be the dominant strain observed in the Jamaican population. Samples collected between January 5 and February 12, 2022 and tested recently, showed that 100% of those samples yielded a positive result for Omicron BA1. Jamaicans are reminded that Omicron is spread more easily (twice as fast) than the original SARS-CoV-2 virus.

At the same time, vaccination remains the best defense against the COVID-19 virus and its variants, guarding against severe illness, hospitalisation, and death.  To receive a COVID-19 vaccine, members of the public may visit the more than 250 access points across the island.

Up to 10 a.m. on Monday, (April 11) over 1.4 million doses of a COVID-19 vaccine had been administered in country. Of that number, 690,649 were first doses; 584,764-second doses; 93,989 single doses; 3,758 immunocompromised doses and booster doses 31,030.

Additionally members of the public should ensure that they remain vigilant in the practice of the other infection prevention and control measures, mask wearing, physical distancing and handwashing.”  

I don’t know if these samples were tested here in Jamaica or if they were sent overseas for testing…to CARPHA, PAHO or CDC. There has always been a time lag between collection of samples and the genome sequencing results, which has reduced the usefulness of the results in assessing our current Covid-19 situation. The hope had been that the time lag would have been reduced once we got the testing equipment and the necessary training for staff. I am not sure what has been happening since the training was being done in January and why the results announced were not from more recent samples. Perhaps we will hear more from the Minister or the Ministry during the week.

In a few days, on April 15, 2022, some of the Covid-19 protocols that were preserved under the Public Health Act will expire. We should hear shortly whether any will be extended. The MOHW data for the past two weeks suggest that they won’t be, but we’ll see.

PS – After I had published this blog post, I saw that MOHW put out the figures for yesterday, April 11, 2022. So I updated my chart and added it below.


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The Public Health (Emergency Measures) (Coronavirus COVID-19) Order, 2022 – dated March 18, 2022

On Thursday, March 17, 2022, Prime Minister Andrew Holness announced that the use of the Disaster Risk Management Act (DRMA) to implement Covid-19 emergency measures would end the following day. He said that a few of the measures that had been in place would instead be administered under the Public Health Act but that all others would come to an end.

The Ministry of Health & Wellness (MOHW) issued a press release about the revocation of the DRMA Covid-19 Orders and indicated that a copy of new Public Health Enforcement Measures Order was attached to the release.

However, although the press release was posted on the MOHW website, the attached Order doesn’t seem to have been posted there. It was posted on the Office of the Prime Minister’s website.

I have posted a copy of the Order below.

Some of the measures are scheduled to expire in a week’s time, on April 15, 2022 and the PM had indicated that a review is to take place to determine what will happen after that time. If the Covid data from the MOHW continues on the trend of the past few weeks, it is likely that the remaining measures will not be extended. The rising number of cases and hospitalisations in the UK, the USA and Canada is cause for concern, however, as in the past increases in those countries have been followed some weeks later by increases here in Jamaica.


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Office of Public Defender’s Nzinga King Report

The Office of the Public Defender’s report into the case concerning the cutting of Nzinga King’s hair while in the custody of the police was released today. It is available on the Office of the Public Defender’s website and I have posted a copy below.

Public Defender Arlene Harrison Henry retired today, having served seven years in the post.