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Prime Minister Andrew Holness made the startling revelation in Parliament on Tuesday that about 1,923 people contracted COVID-19 in Jamaica over the previous seven days.
He explained that in the final week of 2020, the country’s positivity rate was 7.7 percent, and yesterday there were 403 positive cases out of 1,935 samples tested, which is a test positivity rate of 20.8 percent. The average test positivity rate for the preceding seven days was 15.3 percent.
He shared these figures and explained the need for tighter curfew restrictions immediately. He shared that there are “increased hospitalizations across the island, and the hospital census shows significant occupancy levels across the health regions”.
Holness said, “Currently, the Western Health Region is at 83 percent capacity; the Southern Region is at 76 percent; Northern Region at 66 percent; and Southeast Region at 59 percent. Additionally, there are a number of hospitals across the island that are at or above 90 percent occupancy level including May Pen, Kingston Public Hospital and Spanish Town Hospital.”
As of yesterday, February 8, Jamaica recorded 17,701 cumulative cases of COVID-19. Three hundred and fifty-nine people have died due to the pandemic, representing a two percent fatality rate currently.
In response to whether the increased numbers are simply as a result of increased testing, Holness said that while there has been increased testing capacity, “it is important to note that we have not changed our criteria for testing. Our testing has always been based on our surveillance and is focused on suspected cases either as a result of symptoms or contact tracing…”
“We are also seeing less hesitancy towards being tested and a reduction in the stigma associated with COVID-19 as a result of increased awareness. More persons are therefore voluntarily coming forward to be tested,” Holness said.
He said the increased numbers being tested are the result of the addition of 1,100 community health aides.