August 18, 2021
The Ministry of Health and Wellness has confirmed the presence of the highly contagious Delta variant of COVID-19 in Jamaica.
“We have received 40 results from the 60 samples sent to the Caribbean Public Health Agency. Twenty-two are positive for the Delta Variant,” said the Minister of Health and Wellness, Dr Christopher Tufton in a statement a short while ago.
Tufton said the epidemiology and laboratory teams are now doing further analysis to see if there is any particular significant factor related to the 22 identified.
“The public will be kept updated,” he said.
It had been speculated for some time that the delta variant was circulating in Jamaica as the country has for several weeks been recording several hundred cases of COVID-19 daily.
The statement noted that the confirmation of the presence of the variant comes as Jamaica recorded 289 new COVID-19 infectious and confirmed 19 deaths in the last 24 hours. The total number of infections now stands at 59,377 since the first case was confirmed on March 10 last year while the total number of deaths stands at 1,339.
The health and wellness ministry also noted that hospitals across the country have exceeded their COVID-19 bed capacity while exhausted healthcare workers urge members of the public to stay vigilant in their practice of infection prevention and control measures, notably, mask wearing, maintaining physical distancing from others and frequently washing and/or sanitising hands.
“It has never been more important for our people, including those 12 years and older, to get vaccinated,” encouraged Tufton.
His encouragement comes as Jamaica will tomorrow receive its first shipment of the Pfizer vaccine for which children and teens will be prioritised for vaccination. The donation will be delivered in three shipments over three months, with an initial 204,000 doses to make up the first shipment, which should originally have arrived on Tuesday (August 17). The arrival was delayed by Tropical Storm Grace.
“The Pfizer vaccine has been proven safe and is approved for use in children and adolescents. I urge the public’s support for our efforts, as we prioritise their vaccination in the coming days,” said Tufton.