COVID-19 update and press conference – January 14, 2021. (PMO)

In light of the current challenges being faced by the Health Ministry, Government is considering adjustments to the existing COVID-19 strategy, given knowledge of the incubation period of this viral illness.

This was divulged this evening by Senior Medical Officer, Dr. Anton Best, as he spoke to the nation during an update on COVID-19 at Ilaro Court, Two Mile Hill, St. Michael.

Among these is the use of rapid testing technologies, in collaboration with clinical assessments.

Dr. Best, while explaining the quarantine period for the SARS Coronavirus 2, responsible for the COVID-19 disease, said the incubation period of this particular virus was one to 14 days, and this was defined as the time from exposure to the manifestation of the disease  

“So, what we are trying to do? We apply that knowledge of the incubation period to match quarantine.  And quarantine is essentially defined as: ‘Keeping a person away from interacting with other persons in the event that they really did get the disease’. This is a standard thing, and this is well-documented throughout all of public health, and as advised by the World Health Organization and other health authorities,” he stated.

Further outlining how the new policy would be rolled out, the health official said that they have applied the 14-day quarantine period in many circumstances, but it could also be modified.

“And what do I mean by modifying it? If you are able to do a test at some point, you can actually reduce the length of time that a person is in quarantine for. So, the quarantine that I mentioned of a full 14 days does not take into consideration doing a test. So, you can reduce the length of quarantine, if you introduce a diagnostic test for COVID-19.  What we have decided to do is: we look at those persons who have been in quarantine for 14 days and once you have hit or completed that 14th day, you will no longer need to be in quarantine,” Dr. Best noted.

He added that the likelihood of persons having the disease was still there, but this could be discovered by using “rapid test technology” or diagnostic tests, and clinical assessment. 

“You can ask the person if they have any symptoms or signs of COVID-19 and make a clinical determination that this person does not have the disease, based on those factors. And, that is what we have recommended, as the Ministry of Health, to the Cabinet. And, that is what we will be doing in a handful of circumstances.”

Dr. Best, who also commented on the extended curfew that now runs to January 31, noted that the Health Ministry had recommended this to Cabinet to address the outbreak.    

He said they were trying to “reduce the amount of social interactions” and to achieve enough time “to implement and complete as best as possible the contact tracing efforts” that were started at the beginning of the outbreak.

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