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JAMAICA | Gov't tightens restrictions to limit spread of COVID-19 Virus

  • Written by Calvin G. Brown -Wiredja.com
  • Published in Health
Featured Prime Minister Andrew Holnness at a press conference at Jamaica House on March 23, 2020 Prime Minister Andrew Holnness at a press conference at Jamaica House on March 23, 2020
KINGSTON, March 24, 2020 - The number of persons in Jamaica who have tested positive for the coronavirus (COVID-19) have gone up by two and now confirmed at 21. This was among the annoiuncements made by  prime minister Andrew Holness at his Jamaica House press conference yesterday where he disclosed additional measures aimed at curtailing the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

Holness has increased the restrictions aimed at tackling the spread of the virus. He said that beginning on Wednesday, March 25, there will be restriction on persons 75 years old and over, given that the phase of community transmission is being approached.

“All persons 75 years and older must stay at home, subject to exemptions that are to be specified, and this will take effect on the 25th day of March 2020 for 14 days. I am urging all Jamaicans to observe this,” Mr. Holness emphasised.

The Prime Minister also pointed out that all public-sector workers, 65 years and older, are to work from home, subject to specified exemptions.

According to Holness, studies have indicated that seniors are most susceptible to the harmful effects of COVID-19. The World Health Organization has indicated that older persons, especially those with underlying medical conditions, are at a higher risk for more serious complications from COVID-19.

Holness has also extended the time for schools to remain closed until the end of Easter, as the Government maintains measures to contain the spread of COVID-19. Educational institutions were ordered closed from March 13 for at least 14 days. Cabinet is expected to assess the status of the outbreak and advise of an extension, if necessary.

The prime minister also advised that persons who entered the country on March 18 or thereafter must be quarantined for a further 14 days after the expiration of the initial seven days. He said these persons could put the country at risk.

“There are many persons coming into Jamaica. Some of them don’t know that they have the virus. Some of them are moving around, and what we have detected is that there is a significant number who do not want to follow the quarantine rules and put the whole population in jeopardy,” he said.

The prime minister warned that the quarantine laws “are very serious”, adding that where breaches of the law were discovered, the Government would enforce the statute.

Giving details on restrictions on public gatherings, the prime minister said that the original order that confined the assembly of persons to 20 would now change to gatherings of 10. He cautioned that this new measure would be strictly enforced, citing the operators of bars as among those flouting the rules.

“As we are moving into the community transmission phase we have to cut the numbers that gather, and so now we are at 10; other countries are down to five and two. We're still doing this balancing act of trying to keep the economy going and keep economic activity, because we recognise that if the economy goes, the very thing you're trying to address, you won't be able to address, and if you don't address the epidemic then your economy goes. This will be enforced strictly,” he insisted.

Following his remarks, Minister of Health and Wellness, Dr. the Hon. Christopher Tufton, gave more details on the new patients.

“These are a 61-year-old from Manchester who has a travel history that includes Florida, Dubai, Tanzania and Egypt, so he could have picked it up from any of those countries. There is also a 51-year-old male with chronic illness from Westmoreland. He is a contact of two imported confirmed cases and was identified through contact tracing and was admitted to a government quarantine facility,” Dr. Tufton said.

The confirmed cases are 13 males and eight females, and the average age is 48 years old with the youngest being 24 years old and the oldest being 79 years old.

“This is moving up from 19 when we last announced publicly on Friday (March 20),” the Minister said.

Dr. Tufton emphasised that there are no doctors or healthcare workers in the figure at this point.

“Fourteen are imported cases; six are import-related cases – persons who picked up the virus from those who came in – that we have been able to trace, and one is still under investigation,” he noted.

In the meantime, the Prime Minister reiterated calls for social distancing to be maintained in Jamaica’s fight against COVID-19, and encouraged Jamaicans to use technology more to reach audiences, especially churches.

“We have been petitioned as well by several churches which would still want to conduct a National Day of Prayer. The challenge of course, is that we would not be able to assemble in any large numbers, and, therefore, I am certain that the technology does not take away from the sincerity of the prayer. We urge that as many prayer vigils be held [as possible], but they must be done maintaining the gathering limits, and we could expand our audience by the technology,” he said.

  • Countries: Jamaica