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Virus Outbreak At Children’s Home

Staff at the Mustard Seed Community-operated Jerusalem Children’s Village in St Catherine have been placed under home quarantine after 16 employees and 20 residents tested positive for COVID-19.

The St Catherine Health Department started surveillance at the facility this week after receiving a positive result for a staff member. A decision was made to then test the 111 staff members, of which 16 tested positive.

“The health department has now completed testing at Mustard Seed. The 111 staff and 147 residents were tested. In addition to the 16 staff members who returned a positive result, 20 residents also tested positive,” Health Minister Dr Christopher Tufton said yesterday.

Jerusalem Children’s Village is a residential care facility for over 150 children and adults with disabilities. Jerusalem provides a safe and nurturing environment for those who are challenged both mentally and physically.

Isolated On Site

The residents of the facility have been isolated on site and a medical officer has been monitoring the home while three staff members provide care for the residents.

Tufton also noted that 564 persons have been tested at the Golden Age Home in Vineyard Town, Kingston, and to date, 69 persons have tested positive. This includes 19 staff members, 40 residents, and 10 other individuals whose connection to the home is still being determined.

“All the necessary measures are being implemented to ensure the best possible outcome for this outbreak,” he said.

The Golden Age facility is home to 428 elderly residents and has a staff complement of 162. Residents who have tested positive have been isolated.

“A meeting was also held with the matron of the facility and some of the caregivers, and they were advised to assign staff to specific clusters as opposed to moving from one cluster to the next,” Tufton said.

News of the outbreak at the home sparked fear among many as the elderly are most at risk for adverse outcomes from COVID-19. More than three-quarters of the deaths locally have been linked to persons over the age of 50, with the 70-79 age group seeing the highest number of fatalities.

Minister of Local Government and Rural Development Desmond McKenzie has since stated that the outbreak at the Golden Age Home was as a result of a breach in health protocols at the facility.

Tufton has warned that nursing homes that continue to flaunt COVID-19 protocols will be shut down.

“We do have the authority to shut these facilities down. There is a dilemma, though, because when you shut down, the question is, where do you place these persons? But if the situation is intolerable and the residents are at risks, then we will have no option but so to do and find alternative arrangements,” he said.

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