KINGSTON, Jamaica – Health and Wellness Minister, Dr. Christopher Tufton, Wednesday urged Jamaicans to remain calm and protect themselves from the coronavirus as the island is now experiencing a fifth wave of COVID.
“The good news, if you could classify it as such, is that the cases appear to be mild, but persons with comorbidities are at risk for more serious illness,” Tufton told a “ COVID Conversation” with reporters.
“Those who have mild symptoms or no symptoms may be at risk of developing long-COVID, and so the public is being encouraged to practice infection control measures, including the wearing of masks, physical distancing, hand washing and very importantly, staying at home when you are sick,” Tufton said.
Health authorities here have reported an increase in cases and in the positivity rate in the last few weeks which Tufton said is likely due to the Omicron BA.2 sub-variant.
He said this fifth wave differs from the other four waves in that the severity of illness, along with the length of hospital stay, is now shorter, reiterating that vaccination is still the best form of protection against the virus.
He said people should visit health centers to receive their shots, including boosters once they are eligible.
“If you haven’t taken your third shot, then it’s a good time to take it because this will add to your resistance or your response to dealing with the virus,” he said.
Education Minister, Fayval Williams, who was also participating in the event, said that at least six high schools returned to online classes for some students due to an increase in cases at the school.
She said further details about students sitting external examinations and other protocols will be shared shortly and that Town Hall meetings will be held to answer questions from parents and teachers.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Health and Wellness has reported 147 new COVID-19 cases and two deaths on Tuesday, bringing the infection total to 133,250 and total deaths to 3,013.
The new cases comprise 84 females and 63 males, with ages ranging from 16 days to 97 years.
There were 118 recoveries in the last 24 hours, bringing the total to 85,512. The authorities said 79 people are hospitalized, 15 of whom are moderately ill, two severely ill and two critically ill.
Jamaica’s positivity rate for the latest round of testing is 17.6 percent.