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SIMILAR TO the rest of the island, the northeastern parish of Portland has been experiencing a surge in COVID-19 cases since late December, a situation health authorities believe was driven by an increase in social events and festivities during the Christmas season.

The parish’s chief medical officer, Dr Sharon Lewis, said that the spike began in the last week of December and has continued into the new year.

While the spike is believed to be driven by the highly transmissible Omicron variant, which a visitor to the island reportedly tested positive for upon returning to the United Kingdom several weeks ago, its presence is yet to be officially confirmed in Jamaica.

“The spread of this transmissible variant could be a contributing factor to the sharp rise in cases,” Lewis said.

“As at the 11th of January, there were 192 laboratory cases of COVID-19 for 2022. This is a 146 per cent increase over the 78 cases in December 2021. As at January 11, we were at 2,681 [total cases confirmed by lab tests since the start of the pandemic],” she added, urging more people to get vaccinated.

Lewis noted that the weekly positivity rate moved from less than three per cent at the end of November to 35.5 per cent by the end of December.

“Indications are that with the sharp rise in cases since the start of this year, the weekly positivity rate is now more than 60 per cent,” she added while addressing the monthly sitting of the Portland Municipal Corporation.

Rising virus cases slow down vax drive in Portland  Jamaica Gleaner


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