Labour Ministry's social workers ready to respond

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Labour Ministry's social workers ready to respond

Thursday, May 28, 2020

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KINGSTON, Jamaica — Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, Collette Roberts-Risden, says the ministry's cadre of social workers have been trained in providing psychosocial support, cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and first aid across all parishes.

Roberts-Risden said the ministry's staff is also ready to respond and is in a state of heightened readiness because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

She was speaking at yesterday's meeting of the National Disaster Risk Management Council at the Office of the Prime Minister in St Andrew.

Yesterday Prime Minister Andrew Holness, who is also chair of National Disaster Risk Management Council, said all committees of the council and parish disaster committees that were already activated and engaged in the COVID-19 response need to remain on high alert for the hurricane season.

He further charged the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM), which has national responsibility for disaster response, to “ensure that adequate relief resources are in place to respond to any eventuality, and that arrangements are made to procure additional supplies”.

Holness said the government is moving to strengthen the capacities of the municipal corporations with adequate supplies.

“Shelter operations are of particular importance to the government given the COVID measures of social distancing and the potential for the spread of the virus and the impact on the most vulnerable. Municipal corporations and other response actors at the local level must accelerate the reinspection of shelters.

“I believe we have to do far more training and education of our shelter managers so that they understand how to cope with treating with persons coming in during a hurricane,” he said.

The prime minister also said efforts were to be made to ensure that shelters have isolation areas in the event individuals with the virus showed up during a hurricane.

He in the meantime urged calm.

“COVID-19 has tested our emergency systems. We don't want panic and as much as it is a double challenge.... we know and understand hurricanes. We are getting a better sense of managing the pandemic so there is no need whatsoever to panic. Prepare more so we repair less,” Holness said.

He said while the pandemic has resulted in an economic crunch, routine maintenance programmes will kick in shortly to ensure drains and gullies are cleared in time for the start of the hurricane season.

“It is a lot to do with limited resources...all of what we are doing, there is no new money sitting down. We will have to do more with less, so let us not therefore be irresponsible to do anything that will create an avoidable disaster. Even as we return the economy to full productivity we will have to look very carefully on how we do it and all our activities must be towards a productive end,” Holness said.

Forecasters are predicting a busy Atlantic Hurricane season this year with the latest foretelling a likely range of 13 to 19 named storms of which six to ten could become hurricanes. The forecast includes three to six major hurricanes (category three or higher). There have already been two named storms before the official start of the season.

An average Atlantic hurricane season produces 12 named storms of which six become hurricanes including three major hurricanes.

The hurricane season officially ends on November 30.

- Alicia Willis

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