Right Steps & Poui Trees


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Jamaica’s #COVID19 Vaccination Plan: Two documents posted by the Government today

At a press briefing this morning (March 2, 2021), the Ministry of Health and Wellness representatives gave more details about Jamaica’s plans for vaccinating people against Covid-19. The first batch of vaccines is slated to arrive in the country this week and vaccination is planned to begin soon thereafter.

Left to right: Permanent Secretary Dunstan Bryan, Minister of State Juliet Cuthbert-Flynn, Minister Christopher Tufton, Chief Medical Officer Dr Jacqueline Bissasor-McKenzie. Also participating Dr Melody Ennis, Director of Family Health Services (Pictured at top right Antoinette Aiken, providing sign language interpretation)

Now posted on the Ministry of Health & Wellness website are an updated copy of the National Covid-19 Vaccine Deployment & Vaccination Interim Plan Version 1.0 and the Interim Vaccination Logistics plan. I have posted copies of both documents below:

Also here is the link to the PBCJ recording of the press briefing.


Disaster Risk Management Order No. 16 – Dated December 1, 2020

The Gazette of the most recent Disaster Risk Management Order is now available. I have posted a copy below.

The gazetted order has been posted on the website of the Office of the Prime Minister, but not yet on the websites of the Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Health and Wellness.


Disaster Risk Management Order No. 15 – Dated November 1, 2020

On October 28, 2020, Prime Minister Andrew Holness announced some changes to the Disaster Risk Management measures. The measures are detailed in the Gazette of Disaster Risk Management (Enforcement Measures) (No. 15) Order, 2020, a copy of which is posted below.

The gazetted Order has been posted on the Ministry of Health & Wellness website (scroll to the bottom of their page), but at the time of publishing this blog, it is not yet on the websites of the Ministry of Justice or the Office of the Prime Minister.


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Disaster Risk Management Order No. 14 – Dated October 6, 2020

The Gazette of Disaster Risk Management Order No. 14 was posted online this morning. A copy of the order is posted below:

Prime Minister Andrew Holness announced the new and amended measures contained in this order in Parliament last week Tuesday (October 6, 2020). That the Gazette was posted on the governement website a week later is problematic, but it is the pattern that has prevailed throughout the many months since these Orders have been used. Perhaps we are meant to be grateful that the gazetted orders are posted on the Ministry of Justice, the Office of the Prime Minister and the Ministry of Health & Wellness (scroll all the way to the bottom of the page) websites, albeit some time after the measures are announced, as initially they were not posted online by the government at all.


Documents Regarding Covid-19 and Public Holiday Curfews: A Short Access to Information Story

On September 15, 2020, I sent the following Access to information request to both the Ministry of Health & Wellness (MOHW) and the Office of the Cabinet (CO):

“I would like to make a request for the following information under the Access to Information Act:

1) Documents containing information regarding the use of curfews as a measure to reduce risk of Covid-19 transmission during Easter public holidays April 2020

2) Documents containing information regarding use of curfews as a measure to reduce risk of Covid-19 transmission during Labour Day public holidays May  2020

3) Documents containing information regarding use of curfews as a measure to reduce risk of Covid-19 transmission during Emancipation and Independence public holidays August 2020
These documents could be dated prior to or after the relevant public holidays.”

I received an acknowledgement from the MOHW on September 17, 2020…

“This acknowledges receipt of your Access to Information requesting documents as detailed in bullets 1-3 below.  

Please be advised that we have started the necessay research and will revert to you as soon as possible within the timelines of the Access to Information Act 2002.”  

…and a subsequent phone call to clarify the information that I was seeking.

On September 21, 2020, I received the following acknowledgement of my request from CO:

On October 7, 2020, I received this response from MOHW, indicating that no documents relevant to my request were found:

Today, October 9, 2020, I received this response from CO indicated that no documents related to my request were located:

I just want to note that this response does not indicate that there are documents containing this information, but that they are exempt because of being Cabinet documents as set out in Section 15 of the Access to Information Act.

So, there are no documents in the possession of either the Ministry of Health & Wellness or the Office of the Cabinet that contain information about the use of curfews as a measure to reduce the risk of the transmission of Covid-19 during the Easter, Labour Day or Emancipation and Independence public holidays this year. Documents dated either before or after these public holidays.

Increased curfew hours have been announced for the upcoming Heroes’ Day public holiday. I wonder if any documents containing information about this exist at the Ministry or the Cabinet Office?


Disaster Risk Management Order No. 13 – Dated September 23, 2020

The Gazette of the most recent Disaster Risk Management Order is now available and I have posted a copy below. Prime Minister Holness announced the new or amended measures at a press conference on Tuesday (September 22, 2020).

Checks this afternoon of the ususal Ministry of Justice and Office of the Prime Minister’s websites showed that the Gazette of the new Order was not posted there, but the Ministry of Health & Wellness tweeted out a link to Order No. 13 on its website, which was a surprise.


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Disaster Risk Management Order No. 9 – Dated July 1, 2020

The Gazette of the most recent Disaster Risk Management (Enforcement Measures) Order was posted on three government websites this afternoon (July 9, 2020). The Gazette of this Order – No. 9 – is dated July 1, 2020, although it wasn’t gazetted on or before July 1. This doesn’t surprise me anymore, as it seems to be common with the gazetting of these Orders, that they are given a date which is earlier than the date on which they are actually gazetted.

A copy of the Gazette is provided here:

The Disaster Risk Management Order No 9 cover page blog pic

The Disaster Risk Management (Enforcement Measures) (No.9) Order – July 1 2020

I tweeted earlier this week about this ongoing, unsatisfactory situation regarding the delay in gazetting the Disaster Risk Management Orders.

SG tweet re no gazetted order - July 6 2020

 

OPM website Order No 9 posted July 9 2020 blog picThese are the links to the document on the Ministry of Justice website, the Office of the Prime Minister’s website and the Ministry of Health & Wellness’ website.


UWI Mona Faculty of Medical Sciences Covid-19: Approaching Code Red Teleconference, April 19, 2020

Yesterday (Sunday, April 19, 2020) the Faculty of Medical Sciences at the Mona Campus of the University of the West Indies (UWI Mona) held a very timely and informative teleconference on Covid-19. This teleconference was held in collaboration with the Mona Information Technology Services and was live streamed and the recording of the teleconference is now available online.

Dr Tomlin Paul, Dean of the Faculty of Medical Sciences, was the moderator for the teleconference and he referred in his opening remarks to the previous conference the Faculty had hosted on March 5, 2020 – Covid-19 Pandemic Preparedness Conference. At that time Jamaica had not yet had a confirmed case of Covid-19, but shortly afterwards the pandemic emerged in the region. As Dr Paul said, the context for yesterday’s teleconference was one in which there were now cases throughout the region and the focus was on where things currently stood – nationally, regionally and globally – and relevant actions to be taken.

UWI Mona Faculty of Medical Sciences Covid-19 Approaching Code Red teleconference 19-4-2020 b

The first presenter was Dr Karen Webster-Kerr, National Epidemiologist for Jamaica and she spoke about monitoring and assessment of Covid-19 in Jamaica and the current status of the epidemic the country.

UWI Mona Faculty of Medical Sciences Covid-19 Approaching Code Red teleconference 19-4-2020 c

Presentation begins at approx 5:30 minutes into the video recording

Next was Professor Celia Christie, Professor of Pediatrics (Infectious Diseases, Epidemiology and Public Health), whose presentation was titled “Unraveling the Natural History of Covid-19”.

UWI Mona Faculty of Medical Sciences Covid-19 Approaching Code Red teleconference 19-4-2020 d

Presentation begins approx 16 minutes into the video recording

The third speaker was Dr Kelvin Ehikhmetalor, a lecturer in the Dept of Surgery, Anaesthesia and Intensive Care, who is the Director of the Intensive Care Unit of the University Hospital of the West Indies (UHWI). He spoke on Therapeutics and Pharmacological Treatment of Covid-19.

UWI Mona Faculty of Medical Sciences Covid-19 Approaching Code Red teleconference 19-4-2020 e

Presentation begins approx 35 minutes into the video recording

Then Dr Josh Anzinger of the Department of Microbiology (Virology) gave his presentation: Who to Test, What Lab Test & When?

UWI Mona Faculty of Medical Sciences Covid-19 Approaching Code Red teleconference 19-4-2020 f

Presentation begins at approx 1:10:00 in the video recording

The fifth presenter was Professor Peter Figueroa, who is Professor of Public Health, Epidemiology and HIV; he spoke on Success Stories in the Containment and Control of Covid-19.

UWI Mona Faculty of Medical Sciences Covid-19 Approaching Code Red teleconference 19-4-2020 g

Presentation begins at approx 1:33:00 in the video recording

Professor Figueroa was followed by Dr Sandra Jackson, a lecturer in the Department of Microbiology. Her presentation was on the Behaviour of Sars-Cov-2 from Wuhan to Jamaica.

UWI Mona Faculty of Medical Sciences Covid-19 Approaching Code Red teleconference 19-4-2020 h

Presentation begins at approx 1:54:00 in the video recording

The seventh presenter at the teleconference was Professor Denise Eldemire-Shearer, Professor of Aging and Public Health. Her presentation was titled: Protecting the Vulnerable – Seniors and Pre-existing Conditions.

UWI Mona Faculty of Medical Sciences Covid-19 Approaching Code Red teleconference 19-4-2020 i

Presentation begins at approx 2:16:00 in the video recording

The next presentation was given by Pro-Vice Chancellor Ambassador Richard Bernal and he spoke on the Post Covid-19 Pandemic Economic Outlook.

UWI Mona Faculty of Medical Sciences Covid-19 Approaching Code Red teleconference 19-4-2020 j

Presentation begins at approx 2:40:00 in the video recording

Professor Wendel Abel, Professor of Mental Health and Head of the Department of Community Health & Psychiatry, was the final speaker at the teleconference. He spoke on Hope in Uncertain Times.

UWI Mona Faculty of Medical Sciences Covid-19 Approaching Code Red teleconference 19-4-2020 k

Presentation began at approx 3:05:00 in the video recording.

It was a good conference, covering a wide range of topics, providing a lot of information, some of which was fairly technical, but a lot of which was accessible to the layman and general public. Congratulations to the Faculty of Medical Sciences for the second of their Covid-19 conferences!

UWI Mona Faculty of Medical Sciences Covid-19 Approaching Code Red teleconference 19-4-2020 l

Context for the Conference

April 18, 2020 – Ministry of Health & Wellness press release

MOHW Covid-19 press release 18-4-2020 p 1MOHW Covid-19 press release 18-4-2020 p. 2

April 19, 2020 – Ministry of Health & Wellness press release

MOHW Covid-19 press release 19-4-2020

The Ministry of Health and Wellness website has a specific Covid-19 page on which information can be gained.

My blog post on March 11, 2020 focused on information available at the time, including the first Faculty of Medicine Covid-19 conference.

Information Sharing Events: #COVID19 #Jamaica

 

 

 

 

 


So Much Happening So Quickly! #COVID19 #Jamaica

A friend called me late Friday afternoon (March 13, 2020) simply to share her feelings of unease. We agreed that it felt as though we were on the brink of a major event or shift, that it felt as though we were living into a period of grave change. Much has happened since that call that bolsters the feelings we were experiencing that Friday the 13th afternoon.

Somewhere in the wee hours of that day, Jamaica’s Ministry of Health & Wellness had issued a press release giving a delayed update regarding the status of Covid-19 cases in the country, indicating that there were six new cases on the island.

MOHW press release - covid 19 update 13-3-2020

Jamaica has confirmed six new cases of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) on the island.

The cases, which bring to eight the number of confirmed cases, include:

  • Two males, aged 63 and 67, who came into the island on March 7 from Trinidad, having travelled from Malaysia by way of Dubai and London. They presented at hospital on March 11.
  • One male, 36, who travelled from Manchester, England. He was taken to hospital from his hotel via ambulance on March 11.
  • One male, 31, a Jamaican overseas ship worker who came in from the Canary Islands via Portugal and Miami. He arrived in the island on February 25 and presented to hospital with symptoms on March 10.
  • One male, 58, who is the father of the first patient who was confirmed with COVID-19. He was discovered ill at home on March 11.
  • And one female, 34, who is a close contact, also of the first patient who was confirmed with COVID-19 on the island.

The Minister of Health and Wellness Dr the Honourable Christopher Tufton will meet with the media on Friday afternoon to provide further details. He is currently examining the level of preparedness for COVID-19 in western Jamaica.

Ministry of Health & Wellness Press release, March 13, 2020

https://www.moh.gov.jm/jamaica-confirms-6-new-covid-19-cases/

I had watched the rather bizarre press conference held by the US President at the White House that afternoon, which once again illustrated the problematic nature of the federal response to COVID-19 in that country. I had seen reports of the Cayman government’s measures announced that afternoon, in the context of their first confirmed case. (He was a passenger on a cruise ship, who had been hospitalized in Cayman with serious heart problems, who later showed symptoms of COVID-19 and unfortunately died. Medical staff were exposed to the virus while caring for him before he showed symptoms and the hospital has now been closed for two weeks.) The measures included no cruise ships being allowed for 60 days, schools being closed until April 27 and gatherings of 50 or more people being banned.

I had been waiting for the promised press conference by the Jamaican authorities to update the country on the new confirmed cases, initially announced for 2pm, but which got underway after 6pm. You can watch the full recording on the PBCJ YouTube page or on Prime Minister Holness’ Facebook page.

Holness covid 19 - 13-3-2020

Prime Minister Andrew Holness at COVID-19 Press Briefing, March 13, 2020

Some major developments were announced at that press briefing, at which the following officials also spoke: Minister of Health & Wellness Chris Tufton, Chief of Defence Staff of the JDF Rocky Meade, Commissioner of Police Antony Anderson, Chief Medical Officer Dr Jacquiline Bisasor-McKenzie, Attorney General Marlene Malahoo Forte, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health & Wellness Dunstan Bryan, Minister of Foreign Affairs & Foreign Trade Kamina Johnson Smith, Minister of Local Government & Community Development Desmond McKenzie, Minister of Science, Energy & Technology Fayval Williams, Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation with responsibility for Land, Environment, Climate Change and Investments Daryl Vaz and Minister of Tourism Edmund Bartlett.

Some of the developments announced included:

  • the declaration of the entire Jamaica as an area of disaster
  • the quarantining of the communities of Seven & Eight Miles, Bull Bay, St Andrew, because of need to check for evidence of community spread of COVID-19 (related to the first confirmed case in the country)
  • the adding of the United Kingdom to the list of countries on which travel restrictions have now been placed
  • the expansion of isolation areas across the country
  • efforts to increase the number of medical professionals to deal with the situation, including 21 specialist nurses arriving from Cuba on March 24 & requests for retired nurses to return to service
  • the restriction of visits to government golden age homes and infirmaries for the next 15 days
  • special arrangement for increased trucking of water to areas experiencing water shortagescovid 19 seven miles quaratine graphic

 

Since Friday, there have been additional developments related to COVID-19 here:

March 16, 2020 – 5 More Preliminarily Confirmed

In a press release sent out shortly after midnight this morning, the Ministry of Health & Wellness notified that there were 5 more preliminarily confirmed cases in the country. With the two cases confirmed yesterday (March 15, 2020), this brings the current total of confirmed cases in Jamaica to fifteen.

MOHW Covid-19 press release 16-3-2020

March 15, 2020 – 2 More COVID-19 Cases Confirmed; 17 test negative

Press Release from the Ministry of Health & Wellness

“The Ministry of Health & Wellness is reporting that two new cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in the island. This is following the results from the National Influenza Centre, where 19 tests were conducted in the last 24 hours. Seventeen (17) of the cases tested were negative.

The country now has a total of 10 confirmed cases. One of the new cases was identified through contact tracing relating to the index case (Patient 1), while the second patient presented at hospital with a travel history to Trinidad and Tobago and had symptoms similar to COVID-19. Both persons were isolated and samples collected and tested.

The seventeen (17) other patients, who tested negative, included persons who are from Kingston and St. Andrew, St. Ann and Clarendon and who were identified through contact tracing from confirmed cases, where a similar protocol was observed to isolate and test.

Up to Saturday, March 14, 2020, 27 patients were in isolation facilities. They remain stable, including patients 1 and 2, who no longer have symptoms. Patients whose test results are negative will be released shortly.

The Ministry wishes to remind all persons, who suspect that they have had exposure to COVID-19 and are displaying symptoms to self-isolate immediately and contact the Ministry of Health & Wellness at 888-ONE-LOVE (663-5683) or 888-754-7792 for further instructions”

https://www.moh.gov.jm/2-more-covid-19-cases-confirmed-17-test-negative/

We’ll see what today and the week ahead bring.

 

 

 


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Information Sharing Events: #COVID19 #Jamaica

Yesterday (March 10, 2020) Jamaica announced that it had its first confirmed case of the coronavirus COVID-19, a young Jamaican woman who had arrived in the island from the UK…

“…on March 4, presented to the public health system on March 9 and has been in isolation since then.

Based on the patient’s travel history and symptoms, health professionals suspected COVID-19. A clinical sample was collected and sent to the
National Influenza Centre, where laboratory tests confirmed the diagnosis
today at approximately 11:00 am.”

Minister Tufton – Press Statement re Corona Virus March 10 2020

Today (March 11, 2020) the World Health Organization classified the COVID-19 outbreak as a pandemic.

“In the past two weeks, the number of cases of COVID-19 outside China has increased 13-fold, and the number of affected countries has tripled.

There are now more than 118,000 cases in 114 countries, and 4,291 people have lost their lives.

Thousands more are fighting for their lives in hospitals.

In the days and weeks ahead, we expect to see the number of cases, the number of deaths, and the number of affected countries climb even higher.

WHO has been assessing this outbreak around the clock and we are deeply concerned both by the alarming levels of spread and severity, and by the alarming levels of inaction.

We have therefore made the assessment that COVID-19 can be characterized as a pandemic.

Pandemic is not a word to use lightly or carelessly. It is a word that, if misused, can cause unreasonable fear, or unjustified acceptance that the fight is over, leading to unnecessary suffering and death.

Describing the situation as a pandemic does not change WHO’s assessment of the threat posed by this virus. It doesn’t change what WHO is doing, and it doesn’t change what countries should do.

We have never before seen a pandemic sparked by a coronavirus. This is the first pandemic caused by a coronavirus.

And we have never before seen a pandemic that can be controlled, at the same time.

WHO has been in full response mode since we were notified of the first cases.

And we have called every day for countries to take urgent and aggressive action.

We have rung the alarm bell loud and clear.”

WHO Director-General’s opening remarks at the media briefing on COVID-19 – 11 March 2020

Online link here

Within the last week there have been a number of events aimed at sharing information about the COVID-19 disease generally and about the disease in the context of Jamaica. Most of these events took place before the first case was identified in Jamaica and the situation is developing rapidly around the world and here as well. But I wanted to pull together in one place some of the information events here and that is the simple purpose of this blog post.

March 10, 2020 – Ministry of Health & Wellness Press Briefing on 1st Case of Coronavirus confirmed

MOHW Covid-19 press briefing 10-3-2020

Unfortunately the Public Broadcasting Corporation of Jamaica recording doesn’t start right at the beginning of the press briefing, but the full text of Minister Chris Tufton’s statement can be seen in the first document in this blog post. And there is a full recording on Prime Minister Holness’ Facebook page.

March 8, 2020 – Minister of Health’s National Statement: COVID-19 Comprehensive Response Plan

Minister Tufton COVID-19 National Statement 8-3-2020This National Statement was broadcast on Sunday night on most of the main radio and television stations. I cannot find the text of it on the Ministry of Health website, however. Perhaps they will post it at some point.

What I also haven’t yet seen is a published copy of the Comprehensive Response Plan document and I don’t yet know when or if the government intends to make it public. I think it should be made public.

March 5, 2020 – University of the West Indies (Mona) Faculty of Medical Sciences, COVID-19 Pandemic Preparedness Conference

UWI Faculty of Medicine COVID-19 conference 5-3-2020

Dr Tomlin Paul, Dean of the Faculty of Medical Sciences, chaired this conference at which seven presentations were made on a variety of aspects of the situation. The presenters were:  Professor Celia Christie, Dr Carl Bruce, Dr Sandra Jackson, Dr Karen Webster-Kerr, Dr Christine Clarke, Professor Wendel Abel, Professor J. Peter Figueroa and their presentations were followed by a Q & A session. It was a very informative event and was streamed live, which extended the reach greatly.

March 5, 2020 – Meeting of the National Disaster Risk Management Council

National Disaster Risk Management Council 5-3-2020

The Council is headed by the Prime Minister and at the meeting he and a number of other Ministers and agency heads made presentations focused on COVID-19.

The situation continues to evolve and the need for timely official information is ongoing.