COVID-19 update and press conference – February 17, 2021. (PMO)

With the national roll out of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine there has been no sidelining of the regular vaccination programmes at polyclinics across the island says Minister of Health and Wellness, Lieutenant Colonel Jeffrey Bostic.

This was among several issues which the Health Minister had to address during a press conference at Ilaro Court, this morning.

Responding to a comment about several mothers at the Glebe Polyclinic, Glebe St. George, having been turned back on Monday (February 15), after waiting for several hours to have their children vaccinated, Minister Bostic said this was as a result of COVID-19 and trying to get the National COVID-19 Vaccination programme rolled out.  

“…We have had to curtail some activities, some as a result of COVID, but also in terms of this vaccination roll out, which we are trying to complete in as short a period of time as possible because this is considered also to be very critical to our fight against COVID, and to save lives.

“But, we will get back to our schedule within days because it is important that we do so when it comes to certain activities and also we are also trying to roll out the programme in some of the testing sites across the country that are not Ministry of Health facilities. So, this is where we are in terms of that. But recognise that we are doing contact tracing; we are still continuing with swabbing and testing of persons for COVID-19, and we are doing the vaccination exercise, all at the same time. So there has to be some give and take, as we go along.  But we are hoping to be able to manage everyone over a period of time,” he stated.

The Health Minister also dismissed the claim that some samples had been lost by the lab.  On the issue, he said once samples arrived at the lab they were processed and not lost.  

“I can say to you that there have been delays, obviously, in the delivery of tests. And we would have gone through all of that over the last several weeks,” he noted.

While pointing out that in some cases all information required to accompany some of the samples was not present, Minister Bostic added: “In some cases, we didn’t have information, and a lot of work had to be done in order to try to find out exactly who the samples belonged to, and we’ve been able to do that for the most part. There are one or two instances where there was still difficulty in making the link, even though the samples were available in the lab. We re-swabbed the persons … but the lab is not losing samples.”

Minister of Health and Wellness, Lieutenant Colonel Jeffrey Bostic, speaking during a press conference at Ilaro Court today. (PMO)

Stressing that going forward the lab was going to be current, he pointed out that the Ministry should be in a better position “but a lot of it had to do with the accompanying information with the samples that at sometimes really made it difficult to determine who the samples belonged to”.

Lt. Col. Bostic was also asked whether a list circulating on social media and purporting to have the names of positive COVID-19 persons was fictitious. Acknowledging that he was not in a position to make comments in reference to the document, he noted, however, that it did not bear “any official thing from the Ministry of Health and Wellness”.

And, he stressed: “I do not know the origin of the document. And that document [is] like several others, and there have been other documents circulating on social media that we were able to say ‘yes’ or ‘no’, but in this case, we have not yet been able to make those determinations.”

The Health Minister also noted that the media not receiving daily updates was not a deliberate act, but had to do with the timing of the information coming to the Ministry and the channels through which it had to come.  

Elaborating, he said:What happens is that we get the information relating to deaths from the isolation facility or from the QEH, if it happens at Accident and Emergency. But, as long as it is a COVID death or COVID-related death, we get the information from the isolation facilities specialist, Dr. Corey Forde, and once that information is produced, it is then passed to the communications team and the communications team will deal with that.

“Sometimes, we get the information at night, and you will recall that on some occasions, a press release or press statement would have been issued, but there’s absolutely no reason why you may not be able to get it on a daily basis as you are saying.  It is not a deliberate act of any kind.”

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