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Jamaica: Health Ministry Hunts More Money For COVID Fight

The health and wellness ministry has only $300 million left to spend out of the $2.8-billion budget it has received to fight the coronavirus disease and has signalled that it will be going back to the finance ministry for more.

“We are now in negotiations with the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service for additional sums to be made available to the ministry over the next six months,” Permanent Secretary Dunstan Bryan said yesterday at a press conference.

“… As soon as those numbers are finalised with the ministry, we can provide those.”

He, however, did not respond to queries to provide a breakdown of the expenditure, but The Gleaner understands that medical equipment and drugs take up the bulk of the spend.

The ministry, in partnership with the Ministry of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, is financing a $182-million 72-bed field hospital to respond to any surge in local coronavirus cases.

On that score, the ministry said it is now in negotiations with a contractor to outfit the National Arena as a facility to house COVID-19 patients.

But the permanent secretary declined to give details on the contractor.

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