ST ELIZABETH, Jamaica— Health officials here are expressing concern following a sharp rise in corona virus (COVID-19) in St Elizabeth over recent days.

Dr Tonia Dawkins-Beharie, medical officer for St Elizabeth, told OBSERVER ONLINE by telephone early Wednesday that on Monday (January 18) there was a total of 430 cases recorded in the parish since last March. That’s up from 401 cases when she reported to the St Elizabeth Municipal Corporation at that body’s monthly meeting last Thursday.

Dawkins- Beharie said that up to Monday there were 41 active COVID 19 cases in St Elizabeth. Last Thursday, she told the municipal corporation there were 16 active cases.   Sixteen deaths in St Elizabeth have been confirmed as resulting from the respiratory illness.

Parish Manager for the St Elizabeth Health Department, Sean Brissett, told OBSERVER ONLINE that currently five of 22 beds at the COVID-19 isolation ward at the Black River Hospital are occupied.

Brissett and Dawkins- Beharie said the health department was extremely concerned at visual evidence suggesting many people across the parish were not adhering to recommended protocols including social distancing and the wearing of masks.

“We are also very concerned about reports we are hearing about people breaching protocols at churches, burials and so forth,” Dawkins-Beharie said.

The officials said the health department was on “high alert” because of a recent surge of cases in neighbouring parishes – Westmoreland to the west and Manchester to the east.

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