Jamaica Experiencing Fifth COVID-19 Wave, Tufton Confirms

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  Health Minister Dr. Christopher Tufton has confirmed that Jamaica is now experiencing a fifth wave of COVID-19.   Jamaica has been seeing an increase in the positivity rate and daily infections in recent weeks.   Dr. Tufton told a media briefing on Wednesday morning that the fifth wave is likely due to the highly transmittable Omicron BA.2 sub-variant.    He said the conclusion is based on a review of the epidemiological curves for confirmed COVID-19 cases and reproductive rates to identify the inflection point for increased cases.    «This inflection point for the fifth wave occurred along April 20th, 2022. The inflection point is not immediately apparent, clearly there’s a lag effect. It takes about two weeks, given that the assessment involves the use of data of onset of cases. We need to allow time for presentation to the health care system after onset of symptoms, sampling, testing of samples and of course, reporting,» he outlined.    National Epidemiologist Dr. Karen Webster-Kerr said five parishes which recorded the highest COVID-19 cases over the last two weeks are being monitored by the Health Ministry.    They are St. James, Westmoreland, St. Ann, Trelawny and Hanover.    She reported that 313 people in Jamaica have died from the virus since the start of the year.   Schools affected    Education Minister Fayval Williams, who also spoke at the media briefing, said there has been an increase in COVID-19 infections in schools over the last two weeks.   Some 138 suspected or confirmed cases have been reported so far this month.   «Of that number, 99 were suspected among students, with 22 confirmed as positive. Eight were suspected and seven positives were reported among teachers. Additionally, there was one actual case, and one suspected [case] reported in an independent school,» Mrs Williams revealed.