The National Covid-19 Vaccination Operationalisation Task Force has recommended the implementation of a formal telemedicine programme, supplemented by private doctors.
This programme would monitor the clinical progress of patients and arrange for hospital transfers if necessary.
This is one of several recommendations put forward, due to the very low vaccination rate in the population and because Jamaica is at high risk of experiencing a fourth wave of Covid-19 infections early in the new year, with the emergence of a new variant omicron.
The task force is recommending focus on enhancing the home care programme for infected persons.
It wants the Health Ministry to expand and formalize its home care programme to enable persons who do not require hospitalization to recover at home adding that the provision of home care medical packages with appropriate instructions for self-care, should also be considered.
The group also wants the process of responding to queries for infected persons and their families via hotlines to be expanded.
The task force is emphasizing that proper monitoring of persons under the home care programme is critical to ensure timely intervention, including hospitalization, if required.
It adds that early diagnosis is key to limiting spread and also to the success of the home care programme.
Taskforce members also suggest vaccination booster doses to eligible citizens.
The task force notes that a number of countries are experiencing a fourth wave of infections, which is leading to an upsurge in the level of hospitalizations.
Members recently met with the prime minister and the minister of health and made a number of recommendations, mainly directed at anticipating the fourth wave and taking steps to prevent hospitals from being overwhelmed.
Other recommendations are reinforcing public messaging regarding importance of vaccination and adherence to infection prevention protocols
Especially for the most vulnerable population, that is, over 60 as well as the immunocompromised.
The task force says there should be increased availability of testing, including self-testing adding that the licensing, importation and widespread distribution of home testing kits should be expedited.
In addition, it recommends accelerating certification of an increased number of testing centres.
The other recommendations are acquisition of the new antiviral drugs as soon as possible to allow for the treatment of persons immediately upon being diagnosed as being infected.
Introduction of “vaccination or test” programmes in customer-facing public entities and in key economic sectors.
The task force says proactivity is critical to the restoration of full productivity of Jamaica’s economy and the preservation of the lives of citizens.
It adds that some of the measures that have been recommended will help manage the risk of damage from further waves, but only a high degree of personal responsibility – through taking the vaccine and observing the infection prevention and control protocols will fundamentally change the outlook and lead to a sustainable return to normality.