St Elizabeth coming under COVID ‘siege’
But low virus hospitalisations linked to Omicron spread
Mounting coronavirus infections are worrying health-sector administrators in St Elizabeth, but lower-than-average hospitalisations have given succour to western officials amid a wider bed crisis nationally.
Parish manager for the St Elizabeth Health Department, Sean Brissett, believes that the spike is linked to the highly transmissible Omicron variant.
On January 1, there were 32 persons in quarantine or isolation at home, Brissett said, but that number has ballooned to 625. Of that number, 382 are confirmed infections while 243 are contact-to-confirm cases.
Brissett disclosed that health workers at primary-care facilities have had to be reassigned to monitor the cases. There are more than 700 healthcare workers manning the Black River Hospital and health centres across the parish.
“Primary care is currently under siege because as members of staff, they have to be assigned to monitoring these patients,” Brissett told The Gleaner Thursday.
“We are also monitoring the contacts of these confirmed cases to make sure that we can cauterise the spread, although we are at community spread, we have to do what we have to do to make sure that it eases the burden of what is happening in the society,” he said.
Meanwhile, 15 health workers across the parish have tested positive for COVID-19.
Brissett noted, however, that this has not impacted operations at the Black River Hospital since the number of patients requiring hospitalisation was relatively low.
Black River Hospital has four confirmed infections and one suspected case, said Brissett.
“I think the fact that we have such a low occupancy level in the hospital, or COVID patients requiring hospitalisation, is due to the fact that the virus is not affecting people as seriously as in the past. We’re not getting people who are that sick,” said Brissett, attributing the trend to the Omicron variant, which scientists say is more contagious than Delta but less likely to cause severe illness.