The Ministry of Health is this morning refuting as false a front-page story in the Sunday Gleaner that nurses and doctors in Jamaica have tested positive for COVID-19

The article published said the Health Ministry had disclosed that a number of first responders tested positive for the virus.

It says Health and Wellness Minister Dr Christopher Tufton could not give a precise figure, but confirmed that medical personnel who allegedly tested positive are not listed among Jamaica’s 19 confirmed cases.

But Dr. Tufton has said he didn’t give that confirmation.

The Health Ministry is also refuting the claim made in the story as untrue.

The Health and Wellness Ministry in a release to the media says there’s no truth to the report that nurses and doctors have tested positive for COVID-19.

The Ministry says the Portfolio Minister, Dr. Tufton was interviewed by the local newspaper but did not state that a number of the nation’s frontline workers in the hospital had tested positive for COVID-19.

The Ministry says no doctor, nurse or any member of the frontline staff in the public health system or private practice in Jamaica has tested positive for COVID-19.

It also says there’s no truth to reports that there were frontline health workers that tested positive but weren’t listed among Jamaica’s 19 confirmed cases.

The Ministry’s statement says there’re no healthcare workers excluded from the count of positive cases in Jamaica.

Based on the most recent updates from the Ministry of Health over the weekend, Jamaica has not recorded any new cases of COVID-19.

There’re still 19 cases of the new coronavirus in Jamaica.

As at Friday March 20, the Ministry says Jamaica had tested a total 89 cases at the National Influenza Centre, 19 cases have come back positive and 70 have been negative for COVID-19.  

The Ministry says through the daily media briefings, press releases, interviews and snapshot dashboards, it has been fully transparent, as it relates to the number of persons tested for COVID-19, those in quarantine, isolation and the number of persons who would have come to Jamaica from a country of interest.

Meanwhile, the Ministry says none of the nurses who were exposed to patients who later tested positive for COVID-19 have been placed in isolation.

It says some members of the frontline staff have been in quarantine, due to exposure to COVID-19 cases in Jamaica, but all have tested negative and are serving the quarantine period of 14 days.  

The Ministry says to safeguard first responders, including nurses and doctors, Jamaica has established a protocol to randomly test the healthcare team for COVID-19.

It says those who may have unknowingly come in contact with a suspected COVID-19 case, have undergone the requisite quarantine and testing protocols.

Stakeholders Refute Allegations

Meanwhile, other stakeholders in the medical fraternity are dismissing the report that there’re doctors and nurses who’ve tested positive for COVID-19.

Carmen Johnson is President of the Nurses Association of Jamaica.

Nurse Johnson says none of the nurses in quarantine are symptomatic.

Carmen Johnson, President of the Nurses Association of Jamaica speaking with Nationwide News.

And President of the Jamaica Medical Doctors Association, JMDA, Dr. Elon Thompson says the reports of doctors and nurses testing positive for COVID-19 is erroneous and a grave error based on investigations they’ve carried out.

Dr. Thompson said the JMDA does agree that there are doctors and nurses who’ve examined and treated patients who are COVID-19 positive.

He says they do also admit that these healthcare workers are also currently quarantined.  

But Dr. Thompson says as of, Saturday, March 21, 2020, no doctor has tested positive.

He says in the face of a national crisis, the JMDA is encouraging responsible journalism for the protection of their members and the nation.

RJR/Gleaner Boss Apologizes

In the meantime…The RJRGleaner Communications Group is apologising for what it say is any misunderstanding arising out of the statements in the interview with Health Minister, Dr. Christopher Tufton.

In  a statement last evening, Chief Executive Officer of the RJRGleaner Group, Gary Allen says the report in the Sunday Gleaner has generated tremendous concern.

He says having discussed the matter with his editorial team, the Ministry of Health, Porfolio Minister, Dr. Tufton and the Permanent Secretary, the RJRGleaner Group now has full clarity on the matter.

He says they’ve accepted the clarifications and are apologising for the misunderstanding.