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Hambleton: Surveillance Remains Critical

For Release Upon Receipt - Saturday, April 25, 2020

Hambleton: Surveillance Remains Critical

A Cave Hill Campus medical research scientist has advised that the Caribbean is still in the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic and surveillance remains critical as regional governments consider changes to their national responses.

That advice came from Professor of Biostatistics at the George Alleyne Chronic Disease Research Centre, Ian Hambleton during a discussion forum on April 22nd entitled ‘UWI on the frontline: Combatting COVID-19 through data’.

“Surveillance work is now the focus in our group and each morning we’re posting daily surveillance reports for each CARICOM country. We’re also producing regional summary reports, and all reports are available online for download,” he said.

He noted that the situation will change daily, and pointed to Jamaica where the number of confirmed cases now stands at 257, following a sharp increase in the past week.

“The Jamaica cases have tracked generally along the Singaporean outbreak curve until the past week where the Jamaica trajectory is now closer to mimicking the sharp early increases we saw in the UK. So it’s a critical time for Jamaica at this point,” Hambleton stated.

In that regard, researchers at the UWI Cave Hill campus have developed a heat map which highlights the current hotspots in the region.

“We can clearly see (on the map) the hotspot of confirmed cases in Jamaica, and the higher numbers of confirmed deaths in The Bahamas, and to some extent in Trinidad and Guyana.”

He demonstrated outbreak growth curves for 14 CARICOM states saying these showed how the outbreak is progressing in each country.

Hambleton also noted that some Caribbean countries have managed “some pretty impressive” containment measures so far.

“For example we see low numbers and almost no outbreak growth at this point in St Lucia, St Vincent and Suriname. Although Barbados and Trinidad had faster early growth, they are now bringing those early rises very much under control. If we now look at Guyana, Haiti and in particularly Jamaica the growth curves continue upwards.”

He stressed that daily monitoring of new cases and deaths can guide national responses to the pandemic.

Hambleton told the discussion that the Caribbean is in the early stages of the outbreak and national responses during this period are critical, as this is where governments can make a real difference.

“It’s really important to say that it’s still very early days for the Caribbean. The outbreak picture is going to change daily so daily monitoring of new cases and new deaths can guide changes to national responses and it can contribute in the future to discussions of when governments might consider a gentle easing of the controls that they currently have in place.”

All the daily surveillance updates produced by the researchers are available online each morning (, and they are working closely with the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) to distribute these surveillance updates to regional agencies and national governments involved in the COVID-19 response efforts.


Related News:

Visit more information on the Cave Hill Campus response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

About The UWI

For over 70 years The University of the West Indies (The UWI) has provided service and leadership to the Caribbean region and wider world. The UWI has evolved from a university college of London in Jamaica with 33 medical students in 1948 to an internationally respected, regional university with near 50,000 students and four campuses: Mona in Jamaica, St. Augustine in Trinidad and Tobago, Cave Hill in Barbados, and an Open Campus. As part of its robust globalization agenda, The UWI has established partnering centres with universities in North America, Latin America, Asia, and Africa including the State University of New York (SUNY)-UWI Center for Leadership and Sustainable Development; the Canada-Caribbean Studies Institute with Brock University; the Strategic Alliance for Hemispheric Development with Universidad de los Andes (UNIANDES); the UWI-China Institute of Information Technology, the University of Lagos (UNILAG)-UWI Institute of African and Diaspora Studies and the Institute for Global African Affairs with the University of Johannesburg (UJ). The UWI offers over 800 certificate, diploma, undergraduate and postgraduate degree options in Food & Agriculture, Engineering, Humanities & Education, Law, Medical Sciences, Science & Technology, Social Sciences and Sport.

As the region’s premier research academy, The UWI’s foremost objective is driving the growth and development of the regional economy. Times Higher Education ranked The UWI among the top 1,258 universities in world for 2019, and the 40 best universities in its Latin America Rankings for 2018. The UWI was the only Caribbean-based university to make the prestigious lists. For more, visit

(Please note that the proper name of the university is The University of the West Indies, inclusive of the “The”, hence The UWI.)


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