Monday, 10 February 2020 10:47

St Joseph’s Hospital to be converted to a quarantine facility

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The St. Joseph's Hospital in Vineyard Town, St. Andrew is to be converted into a quarantine facility as part of  the Health Ministry's response to the threat of  the coronavirus.

Patients and staff  at the hospital are being transferred to other facilities.

Health Minister, Dr. Christopher Tufton, says this is expected to be completed this weekend. He also said that specialized staff  will then be assigned to the hospital.

“Part of the plan is to have sufficient areas for isolation , so persons who come in and have been exposed to China and who we feel need to be isolated for 14 days , we have to place them somewhere that is secure and that also separates them from other batches that may come in. It makes it very difficult logistically to arrange that, we have one facility already which has 13 persons there and we have been looking around for someplace in the west....”

The Health Minister says the decision was made to increase the quarantine space in the wake of  travel restrictions imposed by Jamaica due to the coronavirus outbreak.

“The truth is that we have a number of Jamaicans - these are primarily Jamaicans because the restrictions now limit the number of Chinese nationals that come in. On the other hand, there are quite a few Jamaicans who live in China, and if they decided to come back, we would have to take them and subject them to quarantine ....” said Tufton, who was a guest on Beyond the Headlines.

In the meantime, a scientist working on developing a vaccine for the coronavirus says the treatment should be ready in early 2021. 

A member of  the Department of  Infectious Disease at Imperial College London, Robin Shattock, says his team has been working with scientists across the world in the race to create a workable treatment.

He added that basic hygiene is the most effective way to prevent the transmission of  the infection as there is no evidence that masks offer enough protection.

The coronavirus has killed more than 630 people in China.