Jamaica’s Ministry of Health & Wellness (MOHW) had established a practice of weekly Covid-19 press conferences, usually held on Thursday evenings. For the past few months, however, this weekly practice has been less reliable, with gaps of a week or more occurring between press conferences. This was particularly problematic during the height of the current wave of the pandemic; fueled by the Delta variant, it has been the worst of the three waves Jamaica has experienced.
Yesterday was Thursday and I tweeted the MOHW a question about whether there would be a Covid Conversation (what the press conferences have been called for some time) and they responded saying no. This actually wasn’t much of a surprise, given that there had been a press conference last week and that the Ministry had been facing a lot of pressure and criticism from the public and in Parliament this week.
What was a surprise was to learn last night, via a Twitter thread by Gleaner journalist Jovan Johnson, that CMO Dr Bisasor-Mckenzie had given a recorded Covid-19 update, which was sent to the media by MOHW. This is not a common practice.
I am glad that this update was given. It is not a true substitute for a live press conference, but it does give the public some additional important information. Neither the text nor the video recording of the update has yet been posted online on the MOHW website. It was said that the video recording would be released by the Jamaica Information Service(JIS), but I have not seen a link on the JIS website. This all shows immediately the difference in access by the public compared to when MOHW press conferences are carried live by Public Broadcasting Corporation of Jamaica (PBCJ) and immediately posted on their YouTube channel. PBCJ has actually used some of the CMO’s recording in their news roundup today and in a special report.
I have posted here a copy of the text of the CMO’s update:
To illustrate the way in which these updates add to the information given in the daily MOHW Clinical Management Summaries, I will refer to this chart I compiled using some of the figures given in these summaries.
The hospitalization numbers in the daily reports show a strong downward trend but in her update yesterday, CMO Bisasor-McKenzie noted that daily hospital admissions have been increasing in the past week.
And she made the added comment, “This means that despite the trending down of hospitalizations, if the trend for admissions going up continues, our bed occupancy will increase.” This changes the perspective of our current situation somewhat.
Also of particular note in yesterday’s update are the comments about the delay in the availability of the 2nd dose of the Pfizer vaccine.
With so many ongoing issues, questions and concerns, it would be useful for MOHW to return to regular, weekly press conferences.