Opposition Spokesperson on Health, Dr Morais Guy – File photo

Jamaica’s Opposition spokesman on Health today called on the Government of Jamaica to urgently activate a quarantine area in western Jamaica “as it is a major gateway for travellers to the island in light of the Coronavirus epidemic.

Dr Morais Guy “argued that with the greatest number of arrivals to Jamaica entering through the western gateways including the Sangster International Airport and the major cruise shipping ports, Jamaica’s western belt must be adequately resourced to provide guaranteed protection against the virus”.

The report, published in today’s edition of The Gleaner noted that “the St Joseph’s Hospital has been morphed into the latest quarantine area”,

“Guy said the distance between the island’s western gateways and the facility in Kingston will pose some challenges.

“He said health workers, who in the main will be responsible for the transfers, as well as the general public, must be protected, if infected persons are to be transported across the island to St Josephs.

“Additionally, Guy is questioning the availability of the isolation/treatment facility at the Cornwall Regional Hospital and its functionality in light of recent challenges and ongoing work at the location.”

St Joseph’s Hospital in Vineyard Town, St Andrew – File Photo

The Opposition MP added: “It is our view that it would be more cost effective to relocate the present laboratories and reopen that specialised facility which was set up at CRH for Ebola, as it was built with infection containment specifications.”

Mr Guy also said the Government needs to make all the requisite funding available to ensure proper containment of the virus, should it reach in Jamaica.

Officials from the Ministry of Health and Wellness were expected to meet with the residents of Vineyard Town in South East St Andrew on Sunday afternoon, to discuss plans to use St Joseph’s Hospital as a quarantine facility.

“Member of Parliament for the area, Julian Robinson, says several residents have raised concerns since the announcement was made by the Minister of Health, Dr Christopher Tufton on Friday. He says he had, therefore, reached out to the minister to have officials attend the meeting and provide more details on the plan.”
The decision was made to use St Joseph’s “to increase the space available to quarantine suspected cases of the novel coronavirus, especially Jamaicans who may choose to return home from China, where the outbreak began”.

“Speaking on Radio Jamaica’s Beyond the Headlines on Friday, Dr Tufton said a transfer of patients and staff from St Joseph’s to other health facilities would be completed this weekend and specialised staff assigned to the hospital.

“Jamaica has restricted travel from China, however, Jamaicans in China who choose to return to Jamaica will not be denied entry.”