Medical oxygen shortage in Jamaica

A medical worker pushes a trolley cart containing tanks of oxygen

The Ministry of Health on Sunday confirmed reports of a shortage of medical oxygen across the island.

In a statement, the Ministry sought to assure the nation that suppliers and the regional health authorities are working to ease the crisis.

“With lives at stake given the high number of hospitalisations associated with COVID-19, the Ministry of Health & Wellness is pursuing all efforts to support public health facilities that are low or otherwise now out of oxygen.”

According to the Ministry, all hospitals were low in supply and those that were out and had to be supplemented.

The statement added that the Ministry is now in dialogue with oxygen suppliers IGL Limited, who are seeking to have stores increased on Monday and into Tuesday.

“All hospitals – through the regional technical directors at the regional health authorities (RHAs) and senior medical officers – have, in the interim, been instructed on oxygen conservation while the island awaits the restoration of supplies.”

The ministry also said that of particular concern at this time are critically ill COVID-19 patients as well as non-COVID-19 patients in need of high amounts of oxygen.

Based on this, surgeries will also not be performed as patients will not be able to be ventilated without oxygen.

“The Ministry and the RHAs are doing everything possible to provide the best possible care for all persons, until oxygen stores can be restored.”

Meanwhile, the Ministry is continuing to encourage members of the public to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

The Ministry is also urging the public to remain vigilant in their adherence to infection prevention and control measures, notably, mask wearing; maintaining a physical distance from others; and frequently washing and/or sanitising hands.

In the latest tally, the Health Ministry said the island recorded 929 new COVID-19 infections and confirmed 21 deaths.

The new cases moved the total number of infections to 66 663 since the first case was recorded last year while the death toll climbed to 1 504.

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