The Health and Wellness Ministry has disclosed that effective Wednesday, January 19, Jamaica’s public hospitals will be restricted to conducting emergency care services only.

In a statement, the Ministry says the move comes as several of the island’s public hospitals face increased pressure due to the growing number of confirmed and suspected COVID-19 cases.

They note that there’s also decreased staff coverage as many healthcare workers are out sick.

The Ministry says up to Sunday, there were some 6-hundred and 82 persons in hospital isolation for COVID-19.

Of that number, 4-hundred and 86 were positive and another 1-hundred and 96 suspected.

Health and Wellness Minster, Dr.Christopher Tufton, noted that all hospitals are seeing increased numbers and several of the larger hospitals are over 90 per cent capacity with some over 100 per cent.

He says at the same time, there’s an increase in admissions for other illnesses.

He’s urging persons to exercise discretion when visiting hospitals at this time.

The Ministry notes that elective cases are being postponed.

Members of the public will be advised as to the new dates for these procedures.

The Ministry also continues to encourage persons to get vaccinated and follow all COVID-19 protocols.

They also advise members of the public to avoid gatherings and stay home if ill.