Sat | May 30, 2020

Good use of the National Arena

Published:Wednesday | April 8, 2020 | 12:16 AM


According to reports, the National Arena is to become an emergency field hospital, an isolation facility, in case there is a surge in COVID-19 cases. This is another good move by the Government in response to the virus outbreak. Time is not on our side with COVID-19 – we can’t wait for a surge to happen then try to wonder where to put the patients. It is always better to be proactive than reactive.

The arena is a large area, where patients can be adequately spaced. The building is also somewhat isolated, which reduces the risks to surrounding areas. The Jamaica Defence Force will now assist in preparing the building to house 72 beds for patients.


Since the outbreak, I have been impressed with the response team led by Minister of Health and Wellness Dr Christopher Tufton, Prime Minister Andrew Holness, and Chief Medical Officer Dr Jacquiline Bisasor-McKenzie.

A few mistakes were made along the way, but this is how you learn, especially when dealing with emergencies, which can be unpredictable. We also must learn from other countries, which experienced the outbreak weeks before Jamaica. Mandatory quarantine should have been in place for arriving passengers mid-March when it became apparent that the global pandemic was spreading rapidly, mainly due to travel.

Jamaica should be concerned about the passenger loads travelling to and from the United States, which now leads the world in the number of COVID-19 cases, with death toll rising at alarming numbers each day.

Hotels that are now empty could have been booked as mandatory quarantine facilities, resulting in some revenues to property owners to help them get through the period. The 14-day government quarantine would have been a small price to pay on a national level, which could have helped to contain the spread of the virus on the island.