Jamaica started preparedness for any possible introduction of the novel coronavirus – COVID-19 in early January 2020, immediately following identification of the novel coronavirus on 7 January 2020 in China.
The Government of Jamaica, especially the Ministry of Health and Wellness, continues to guide all sectors in the required preparedness and response actions.
Government of Jamaica
The Government of Jamaica continued its border management at Points of Entry from 1 July 2020 with health screening and risk assessment to determine the need for sampling for SARS-CoV-2. AS of 10 July 2020, visitors from named high risk areas are required to upload a valid PCR test result for a sample taken within 7 days of arrival into the island, using the jamcovid19 app. Currently the high risk areas named are Florida, New York, Texas and Arizona, USA. Residents returning from these areas will be quarantined at home and are to be sampled at a health facility. Business travellers will have samples taken at the POEs and remain in quarantine at their hotels / place of residence until the result is received. Persons arriving from selected Caribbean countries will be screened and landed.
Ministry of Health and Wellness
- The updated MOHW Community Engagement plan was finalised during the week of 28 June 2020.
- The MOHW COVID-19 Updated Discharge Protocol was disseminated to health care workers islandwide on 19 June 2020.
- The surveillance guidelines are being updated to include general hospital and Point of Entry surveillance for COVID-19.
- A new guideline was developed – Management of the COVID-19 exposed neonate-22 May 2020.
- Two (2) of the twelve (12) National Quarantine Facilities (NQFs) remain active.
- A new application for self-monitoring by persons in isolation and quarantine was implemented by the MOHW.
- Additional isolation facilities have been identified to accommodate approximately 300 persons outside of hospital
- Interim guidelines for the management of pregnant women completed and circulated.
- Continue contact tracing, testing and quarantine of MOHW workers who are contacts of a confirmed case at the MOHW Head Office.
- Escalate the identification of cases and contacts, contact tracing, establishment of national quarantine and isolation facilities and installation of equipment and materials for case management.
- Expand community engagement and risk communication for persons in home quarantine and isolation.
Coordination, planning and monitoring
- PAHO CO remains embedded in the MOHW EOC and provides 24-hour technical support and guidance, including to the twice daily EOC briefing meetings. Focus for the week of 28 June 2020 was on guidance for the MOHW, Jamaica on :
- Requirements for the follow-up of visitors who are required to be quarantined or isolated – 3 July 2020.
- Preparedness for the hurricane season, and
- Dengue outbreak management, with emphasis on surveillance, integrated vector management and case management.
- PAHO CO provided technical guidance to Bermuda on the establishment of a Health Disaster Management Programme, including the HEOC and forwarded and discussed the results of the POA for DRR 2016 -2021 – 1 July 2020
- PAHO CO in collaboration with the Caribbean Confederation of Credit Unions provided approximately 5,700 N-95 masks to the MOHW - 3 July 2020
- PAHO CO assisted in the finalisation of the proposal for US CDC Caribbean Grant funding (US$1M) for Jamaica, focusing on laboratory equipment and supplies, strengthening of surveillance and IT systems and provision of vehicles – 2 July 2020
- PAHO CO completed an application for a catalytic grant of US$30,000 from WHO in support of the Global Action Plan for Healthy Lives and Well-being for All to provide leadership, drive impact and support the implementation of SDG 3 at country level in an aligned manner. This funding will be used to support the implementation and evaluation of the School Mental Health Literacy programme in the context of COVID-19.
- PAHO CO in collaboration with the MOHW completed and submitted the WHO COVID-19 Monitoring and Evaluation weekly report for 21 – 27 June 2020 - 1 July 2020.
- PAHO CO heightened its collaboration with MOHW to advance timely implementation of work plans for the COVID-19 response for USAID, DFID, Global Affairs Canada, UN SG Multi-Partner Trust Fund, with on-going procurement.
- PAHO CO maintained the technical lead for health for the COVID-19 response within the UNCT and the GOJ system. PAHO CO provided a progress report to the Follow-up Meeting on COVID-19 External Partner Coordination hosted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade and the Planning Institute of Jamaica on resource mobilisation and the status of implementation of programmes and projects for the COVID-19 response, including those funded by USAID, UN SG MPTF, Global Affairs Canada, UK DFID, EU, PAHO/WHO and the Government of Jamaica – 24 June 2020.
Risk Communication and Community Engagement
- Finalised with the MOHW and USAID educational material, including pull-up banners for the Points of Entry on quarantine, social distancing and IPC - 3 July 2020
- Developed the first draft of the PAHO CO newsletter with consultations with members of the technical team and initiated dialogue with the MOHW counterparts to access additional information.
- Provided support to the MOHW external stakeholders working group on the MOHW health promotion NCD strategy and facilitated discussions on how health promotion in schools can be better targeted.
- Undertook the first stage of filming a Breastfeeding during COVID video.
- Supported the development of another video on breastfeeding and climate change with the National Infant and Young Child Feeding Committee.
- Provided support to the ‘ask the experts’ social media live discussion to help raise the engagement of the event.
- Initiated the development of a script and production options for a home quarantine video for the MOHW.
- Updated three websites with daily content and the digitisation of country situation reports.
- Provided contributions to the development of PAHO HQ’s strategic communications plan.
Surveillance, Rapid Response Teams and Case Investigation
- PAHO collaborated with the MOHW to prepare guidelines on waste management – 2 July 2020
- PAHO provided guidance to the MOHW in a preparatory meeting for the virtual visit on TB elimination initiative – 2 July 2020
Points of Entry
- PAHO CO provided guidance to the MOHW on the Public Health Measures to be taken at the Points of Entry for national and international travellers – 3 July 2020.
- PAHO CO collaborated with the MOHW, Jamaica and reviewed the design for the isolation facility at the Sangster International airport within the PAHO-USAID COVID-19 response work plan – 25 June 2020.
- PAHO CO handed over positive controls and extraction kits and reagents to the MOHW – 30 June 2020
- PAHO CO handed-over 20 sets of primers and probes x 3,000 reactions each (E-gene – La Charite protocol) to the MOHW – 26 June 2020
- PAHO CO in collaboration with PHE laboratory team, WDC conducted training for eight (8) NPHL, MOHW staff on the first 2 modules of the training on PCR testing on 25 and 26 June 2020.
Infection prevention and control
- PAHO CO provided CMOs of Jamaica, Bermuda and the Cayman Islands with the WHO Guidance on Infection Prevention and Control during health care when COVID-19 is suspected – 29 June 2020 – on 3 July 2020.
- PAHO CO is collaborating with the MOHW, Jamaica on infection prevention and control and will implement the updated schedule for a new round of sensitisation and training for IPC in health care settings islandwide – 24 June 2020.
- PAHO CO provided CMOs of Jamaica, Bermuda and the Cayman Islands with the WHO Scientific Brief on Smoking and COVID-30 June 2020 – on 3 July 2020.
- PAHO CO in collaboration with the Ministry of Education and Youth (MOEY) completed the Train-the-Trainers course for 50 Health and Education officials in School Mental Health Literacy (SMHL) for school-based adolescents in the context of COVID-19, that was hosted on the Virtual Campus of Public Health.
- Planning with the MOEY has begun for the implementation of the SMHL approach in schools in September 2020, as well as for the evaluation of the approach.
- PAHO CO continues its collaboration with MOHW counterparts on the re-organisation of health services to ensure required capacity for isolation beds, including for mechanical ventilation in High Dependency Units and ICUs.PAHO CO supported the MOHW with review and submission of the MOHW Interim Guideline for Nutritional Management of COVID-19.
Maintaining essential health services
- PAHO CO supported the MOHW with the preparation of a submission to the Global Fund for assistance within the Jamaica Country Coordinating Mechanism for HIV and AIDS response to enhance the laboratory capacity with additional human resources, surveillance system and PPEs for the CSOs. – 3 July 2020
- PAHO CO supported the participation of the Chief Medical Officer of Jamaica in the Caribbean Webinar no the COVID-19 and Primary Health Care on the 30th June 2020, hosted by the Edmundo Granda Ugalde Leaders in International Health Program (LHIP) and the International Health Network. The aim of the webinar was to share the good practices and response to the COVID-19, particularly by strengthening the Primary Health Care. The country experiences of Jamaica, Dominica and The Bahamas were presented and discussed to an audience of 150 colleagues from the Caribbean.
- PAHO provided technical support in the redesign of the impact assessment of the Health System Strengthening Project of the MOHW Jamaica, funded by the IDB. The redesign of the project and reprogramming of the 50 million USD for the Policy Component will be key because there are significant delays in the implementation of the initial plan and there is the need to reprioritize activities and funds for the health system functions that needs strengthening for the COVID-10 response and maintaining essential health services.
- PAHO provided technical support to the National Committee on Information Systems for Health as key governance mechanism of the MOHW, including the Ministry of Technology, eGov, PIOJ, Statin, UWI and other key stakeholders.
- PAHO provided technical support to the MoHW in the development of the National Strategy on Information System for Health, as part of the MOHW Health System Strengthening Project, funded by the IDB.
- PAHO CO continued its support of front of package labelling
- For the research project - Grant #550001 closed on 30 June. All funds were expended including transfer of funds to University of Technology (UTech). Preparations are being made for PAHO to train data collectors (online).
- Jamaica’s participation in discussions on CARICOM Standard Specification for Labelling of Pre-packaged Foods (CRS 5) continues including front of package labelling, with 3 meetings of the mirror committee held recently. There is inability to reach consensus on the latest requirement from CROSQ – a national position on the symbol to be used in the Informative Annex. The High-In system was agreed on by 11/12 member states, but Jamaica abstained. Industry representatives on the committee continue to resist the high-in symbol and the National Compliance and Regulatory Authority (NCRA) also disagree.
- PAHO CO continued its support for Jamaica which is leading the development of the CARICOM Regional standard for nutrition labelling and a meeting was held.
- PAHO CO provided guidance to the MOHW on determining the essential health services to be maintained in the context of COVID-19 – 26 June 2020
- PAHO CO provided support to the MOHW Essential Research Group in the development of the Research Project on the impact of COVID-19 in the access to essential health services in Jamaica. Discussions were facilitated on the main findings of the PAHO Rapid Assessment on Access to Health Services in the Covid-19 pandemic with the MOHW Health System Research Group – 3 July 2020.
- PAHO CO supported the MOHW Essential Research Group in the development of the Research Project on the impact of COVID-19 in communication and community engagement in Jamaica. Contributed to the submission of the communications research project to the UWI ethics committee.
- PAHO CO provided information on the discontinuation of the hydroxychloroquine arm of the WHO Solidarity Trial and the positive results with the use of dexamethasone in the critically ill patient. – 19 June 2020.
- PAHO CO continued its collaboration with the MOHW on the Research Group for COVID-19 and the Working Group on Health Systems, focusing on the modelling exercise using COVIDSim and EpiEstim, the global seroepidemiological study and the WHO Solidarity Clinical trial – 19 June 2020.
- PPEs, laboratory supplies, UTM and swabs, equipment and supplies for isolation and quarantine facilities, wards and rooms
- Additional guidance on laboratory testing and interpretation of results
- Digital thermometers