The Star (Jamaica)

COVID ripping through workforce

Virus claiming more and more young people

- TIFFANY TAYLOR AND SIMONE MORGAN LINDO STAR Writers

The dangerous COVID-19 virus has been claiming the lives of several young people in Jamaica, data from the Ministry of Health and Wellness reveal.

As of Tuesday, 189 persons under the age of 50 have died from the disease, which was believed to be harsher on older persons with underlying illness.

The 40-49 age group accounts for 111 of the deaths, the latest casualties being a 49-year-old male from St Ann and a 49-yearold male from Manchester.

The data also show that 53 deaths have occurred in the 30-39 age group.

Dr Leahcim Semaj, CEO at the Job Bank, noted that a lot of persons who are in the productive years are being impacted by the virus.

“Initially, we had the position on older people who are the individual­s who are largely susceptibl­e, but now, all across the world, the numbers are trending lower and lower. In terms of the workforce, it is now being impacted because early in the game, we really recommende­d that persons over a certain age stay home, stay away from heavy traffic areas,” Semaj said.

“The discussion has been clear for the past year in Jamaica about 60 years and over, and each time they give the warning, they recommend that people 60 and over, with underlying conditions, should be more careful,” Semaj said.

He reasoned that with the Delta variant causing rapid spread and leading to more severe outcomes in patients, attention has to be placed on the effect of the virus on younger people in the population. The psychologi­st and human resource specialist said areas such as public transporta­tion are breeding ground for the virus.

“It is not surprising that we are seeing more of the people in the working age of the population, in the workforce, being impacted by COVID-19,” Semaj said.

A staggering 1,417 persons have died in Jamaica from COVID-19 since the pandemic was confirmed locally last year March. Some 15 deaths, which the health ministry said occurred between August 18 and August 22, were reported yesterday. Since the start of August, 217 persons have died from the novel coronaviru­s. Nearly 41,000 of the country’s 63,464 cases involve persons under the age of 50.

Dr Mindi Fitz-Henley, president of the Jamaica Medical Doctors’ Associatio­n, has yet again implored persons to continue to observe proper infection-prevention control measures such as mask wearing, handwashin­g, and physical distancing to slow the spread of the virus.

“There is nothing that is going to protect the younger folks from catching COVID unless they get vaccinated. Vaccinatio­n sites have been widely available and the vaccines are here in plentiful amount, and so we need them to come out and get vaccinated,” Fitz-Henley said.

She added: “Right now it is any and anybody; so whether you are a vegan or vegetarian, old, young, big and fat, you can catch the virus.”

Last week, Dr Jacquiline Bisasor-McKenzie, the island’s chief medical officer, warned that Jamaica could record up to 200 deaths per week if the third wave of COVID-19 infections is not brought under control.

As of Tuesday, Jamaica has recorded 1,431 COVID-19 deaths, with 321 taking place since the start of the month.

 ?? FILE ?? Persons turned out at the National Arena in Kingston for their COVID-19 vaccine.
FILE Persons turned out at the National Arena in Kingston for their COVID-19 vaccine.
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