Health Minister, Dr. Fenton Ferguson, came under pressure in the House of Representatives this afternoon as he reported that one more baby has died and three more infected in the outbreaks of bacteria at the Cornwall Regional and the University Hospitals.

The official death toll from the dead babies scandal now stands at 19.

Minister Ferguson says a special unit has been set up in his Ministry to address the care of newborns in public and private health care facilities.

Minister Ferguson told the House of Representatives this afternoon that the Government of Jamaica regrets that babies have died.

He says there has been one more loss of life since his Ministry update the country last week Tuesday. Minister Ferguson says the number of babies infected has increase from 42 to 45.

Minister Ferguson told the House that steps are now being taken to ensure a major bacteria outbreak and loss of life do not happen again.

Minister Ferguson and West Portland MP Daryl Vaz clashed when the Opposition MP brought to his attention media reports which quote international experts who’ve described the loss of life from the infection outbreak as alarming.

Meantime … Dr. Ferguson this afternoon declined to respond directly when questioned by Opposition Spokesman on Finance, Audley Shaw, whether mention of babies dying from infection outbreaks is in the audit of the health sector which his Ministry has refused to make public.

Dr. Ferguson declined to provide a direct answer.

Mr. Shaw pressed the Health Minister to tell parliament the truth.

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Dr. Ferguson again insisted that he would not respond directly to the question today.

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Meanwhile, Dr. Ferguson says he became aware of the infection outbreak at the Cornwall Regional Hospital on October 12, four days before it was disclosed by Nationwide News on Friday October 16.

Responding to a question from West Portland MP, Daryl Vaz, Dr. Ferguson said he became aware of the outbreak at the UHWI on the same day it was reported by the media.

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There were testy exchanges in Gordon House as Mr. Vaz read from an e-mail purportedly sent by an employee of the Health Ministry which stated that Dr. Ferguson was misleading the country regarding when he became aware of the infection outbreaks.

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Vaz accused Dr. Ferguson of having a credibility problem when the Health Minister refused to commit to making public a recent audit of conditions facing the sector.

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