Tufton urges vax cards for Christmas gatherings
While imploring all Jamaicans that they have a role to play in navigating the COVID-19 pandemic, Health Minister Dr Christopher Tufton has called for citizens to make bold decisions during the holidays, including asking guests at gatherings for vaccination cards.
"If you are going to entertain, meaning small gatherings, whether family members or close friends, we need to take a decision by asking persons for their vaccination cards or status and make it a rule that, as a householder, we will allow those who are vaccinated," he said. "The advantage of having a vaccinated audience is that you have a far better chance of overcoming contamination from the virus than if you have an audience mixed with the unvaccinated."
Tufton, who was speaking about the Omicron variant of the virus at a press conference yesterday morning, urged Jamaicans to remain vigilant during Christmas and not to allow complacency to creep into their approach when observing COVID-19 safety protocols following a relaxation of the measures. He confirmed that a traveller who visited Jamaica for a short period has tested positive for the fast-spreading strain. According to the Ministry of Health and Wellness (MOHW), there is substantial data to show that the new strain is spreading significantly faster than the Delta Variant in countries with documented transmission, with a doubling time between 1.5 to three days.
Although more transmissible, early reports have suggested that the Omicron strain poses less of a threat when compared to other variants. Tufton said that his ministry will not relent in its drive to achieve herd immunity. He said the fight against COVID is not solely the government's responsibility and has implored the public to be self aware.
"No matter what we do there are some undisputable realities that we have to face. Firstly, COVID is here and it is here to stay. As a result, we have to learn to live with COVID but not necessarily as how we have been living for the past two years. We have to pivot, we have to adjust, we have to do what is necessary to protect ourselves and those around us," he said.