Update On COVID-19 In The Golden Age Home

The Minister of Health, Dr. Christopher Tufton and Minister of Local Government and Community Development, Desmond McKenzie addressed the status of the island’s infirmaries and nursing homes, following yesterday’s report of a COVID- cluster at the Golden Age Home in Vineyard Town, St. Andrew.

Dr. Tufton says according to the Public Health team that works with the Standard Agency, of the country’s 214 nursing homes, 206 are operational and 206 have been inspected. He says of the 206 inspected, 95 met the requirements of the necessary protocol immediately, while 116 were unsatisfactory.

Also of the island’s 15 infirmaries, seven met the criteria and eight were identified as needing more work.

In regards to the Golden Age Home, the Minister said he found the home “fairly good in terms of infrastructure” when he visited the facility three weeks ago on Monday, September 28. The Minister further described the structures that he observed.

“Starting at the gate where the temperature check and the hand wash station was in place… workers coming in had changing arrangements, an area where they had to change so that they wouldn’t bring any possible contamination on their clothing, [there was] isolation or the separation of blocks so that there wasn’t co-mingling…The wearing of masks was observed, not for everyone but for a number of persons, particularly the staff,” the Minister explained.

He continues, by stating what he believes might have caused a slippage at the institution.

“To my mind, there was a fairly good set up in terms of the infrastructure, now bare in mind that that is an important requirement but not the only requirement to reduce or even eliminate the possibility of the virus coming in. A lot now depends on how the infrastructure is used.”

In the meantime, the Local Government Minister stated that “there has to be some breach why the virus infected so many persons.”

He added that, “it’s going to be difficult to police every area of the infirmaries” but the two Ministries are working together to monitor and get the outbreak under control.

McKenzie also added that his Ministry will be conducting investigations to identify how the residents contracted the virus.

In addition the Minister of Health highlighted, there will be restricted movement between the various residential areas at the home and strict enforcement of the no visitor rule among other protocols.

The Golden Age Home currently has 46 positive cases, 43 of which are residents and 3 staff members.

The home houses residents 60 years and older.

The Ministry of Health says all residents and staff are being monitored with symptomatic surveillance, and with exception of the 73 years old who is the initial case, all the other cases have been identified to be asymptomatic.

The Ministers were speaking at the Ministry of Health’s COVID-19 Digital Press Conference, earlier today.