The increasing numbers at isolation facilities across the country are being compounded by accompanying minors who test negative for COVID, but are dependent on their infected relatives.
According to Minister of Health and Wellness Lieutenant Colonel Jeffrey Bostic this is at the bottom of a “regrettable” video showing COVID-19 patients stretched out on the floor of the isolation facility at the Blackman and Gollop Primary School, with one person protesting the conditions there.
It is also why the Ministry of People Empowerment and Elder Affairs is now being called in to assist with the care of children and others who find themselves in the unfortunate situation.
Nevertheless, Minister Bostic condemned the person behind the broadcast for violating isolation protocols and attempting to “cast a dark shadow” on the employees at isolation facilities.
“I want to stress that this is not the normal standard of service delivery at that institution or at any of our isolation facilities, and so it is regrettable what happened, but it was a matter that was out of our control at that time. But, I want to remind us all, we are in a pandemic,” Bostic said during a press conference on Monday evening.
“We are fighting a war against COVID and when you’re fighting a war, there are things that will not be perfectly instituted. Those on the ground will have to make decisions based on what is happening at a particular point in time,” the minister added.
Adamant that the issues were more of a social nature than directly linked to public health, the Lieutenant Colonel revealed that as early as Tuesday he would be meeting with the relevant authorities.
“This is a meeting we are going to have tomorrow to see if we can come up with a plan to deal with that, because with the greatest will in the world, there is no way that we can anticipate how many people are going to be turning up at a facility that are not positive and this is really the reality that we were faced with a couple days ago,” he said.
The viral video, which made the rounds over the weekend, captured new admissions at the Staple Grove, Christ Church facility lying on the bare concrete floor. Numerous children were also seen in the video along with bags, presumably carrying the clients’ belongings and standing fans.
“We got to be lying down on the ground,” the upset female patient complained.
“If I don’t ask for chairs, look, this is what is happening. This is wa part we got to sleep, from since nine o’clock. You understand what I mean? This is not right,” she declared.
After consulting with Isolation Facilities Manager Dr Corey Forde, Minister Bostic revealed that with cases surging, public health officials have been balancing the daily admissions with patients being discharged and increasing accommodation capacity based on the numbers.
He explained that on the day in question, eight people were expected to arrive having tested positive for the virus. However, when they arrived, there were several children accompanying the patients who did not test positive for COVID-19 and were therefore not accounted for.
“So that obviously presented a problem for the facility because there were only eight beds available in anticipation that they were only eight cases,” Bostic explained.
“The families were approached and offered chairs for the children to sit on until the management of the facility was able to determine how to deal with that particular problem and they decided to lie on the ground and that is what we are seeing in the video.”
Bostic revealed that he felt badly about the video and the demoralising effect that it has been having on the hardworking public health workers.
“We are trying our very best to make sure that we do as best we can for everyone, but sometimes there are going to be challenges. Sometimes there are going to be delays in being able to process people. All of these things must be expected when you are in a war zone and we are in a COVID war zone,” the health minister concluded.