Calls for More Nurses at Jamaica Airports, in Response to Coronavirus

January 28, 2020

News broke earlier on TVJ that there was a suspected case of someone having the virus in Jamaica at the University Hospital of the West Indies however these claims were shortly dismissed by Dr. Christopher Tufton.
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Carmen Johnson, the President of the Nurses Association of Jamaica is saying greater monitoring is needed at the airports at this time. Due to the heightened threat of the Coronavirus.

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She believes there should be enough nurses to replace the ones that are taking breaks to use the restrooms or eat, as there are a lot of passengers passing through the airports who need to be checked. There are 6 nurses at the Norman Manley International Airport and 4 at the Sangster’s International Airport, and she believes the numbers are very inadequate.

The President said nurses who work at the airport are specially trained and these trained nurses have been retiring or leaving the island to work in other countries.

Miss Johnson also said the screening process at the airports are complicated because there are no digital thermometers there, they are still relying on Analogue thermometers.

However, the Minister of Health, Dr. Christopher Tufton responded, he said all the many diseases that have been making persons ill in other countries have not affected Jamaicans in the past and he has confidence in the health care professionals at our airports and that is how there has been no spread of these dangerous diseases in Jamaica.

In response to the problem the NAJ President raised about not having an area to be used for quarantine, he says the Government have taken action and there are areas at the ports that can be used to isolate persons who are showing signs of having the disease.

The Minister said the nurses are sensitized all their frontline healthcare workers are equipped as well. They have been tracking the spread of the disease and know it is in 10 countries. He believes we are at an excellent place when it comes on to the experience of the health care workers.

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Last year we lost over 500 nurses to the developed countries because the nurses are being recruited, there has been an increased number of nurses that are being trained, so the nurses who leave have been replaced.

The specialist nurses were brought from the UK, there is a bilateral agreement. They are being guided by WHO and healthcare professionals are monitoring people who are travelling from China more than other travellers, persons from China will be carefully screened.

He says the Government will be working with the multilateral partners and bilateral partners to keep Jamaica protected. Specialist nurses have been brought back to the island.

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Much is not known about the virus yet. Mr. Tufton wants Jamaicans to understand that we all have a role to play, coronavirus is new and the persons who are travelling from countries that are affected by the disease are properly screened when they are entering Jamaica.

He says, we all have a role to play and luckily, we have no cases yet and the work will continue to keep it that way. He thinks it is essential for us to work together and he respects the NAJ president a lot.

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Coronavirus is new and there is not much that is known about it, but the symptoms are similar, to the ones that are associated to the common cold as it is a respiratory disease, he says.



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