Jamaica’s public hospitals are growing increasingly strained with the majority now nearing or at full COVID-19 capacity.

This, as the country continues to experience a significant spike in infections and hospitalizations.

Health and Wellness Minister, Dr. Christopher Tufton, today announced new measures designed to manage the surge, including telling those with non-critical illnesses to avoid going to hospital if at all possible.

Wayne Walker has more.

The health system is creaking.

Minister Tufton gave a dire assessment of the current availability of isolation beds.

The problem stems from a context where the country saw nearly three thousand new COVID-19 infections in the last week, a staggering statistic.

This is being borne out in the public health system which has also seen record increases in hospitalizations.

Dr. Tufton says the problem is not limited to any single region but is impacting the island.

However, Dr. Tufton says no one will be turned away from the public health system regardless of a lack of beds.

He says plans are now being put in place to both increase bed count and staffing numbers to manage the surge.

But, the Health Minister made an unusual request noting the severe stress on the system, urging Jamaicans to avoid hospitals unless absolutely needed.

Dr. Tufton also warned Jamaicans that even those who show up to hospitals should expect significant increase in wait times while the country navigates the latest surge.