Coronavirus: Holness urges Jamaicans not to panic buy
Prime Minister Andrew Holness addressing journalists at Jamaica House last week.
Prime Minister Andrew Holness is urging Jamaicans to remain calm and not to engage in panic buying amid the threat of the fast spreading novel coronavirus (COVID-19).
Holness, speaking Monday night at the 20th anniversary celebration of Progressive Grocers Limited Jamaica at the Jamaica Pegasus hotel, said local retailers should ensure that supplies are adequate and that prices are stable.
“In the current situation where there is a global threat, that is a possible disruption of supply chains by the COVID-19, retailers and suppliers in the distributive network will play a critical role in ensuring general stability in the economy," Holness said.
"I want to take this opportunity to say to our Jamaican consumers that there should be no need for panic buying and the local retailers will ensure that there are adequate supplies on our shelves and that prices will remain stable,” added the prime minister.
Jamaica confirmed its first case of COVID-19 on Tuesday, with a dual Jamaican/British citizen returning a positive test after travelling to the island from the United Kingdom. However, even ahead of the confirmation of the disease on the island, residents had been stockpiling on hand sanitisers and other cleaning products, and food.
In that regard, Holness noted that disruptions in the global system are inevitable, as such, the country must have certain production capacities, locally, in agriculture.
“Disruption in the global system is inevitable, and disruptions will become more frequent. As a part of our resiliency strategy, we must ensure that we have certain production capacities locally and agriculture is one area in which we must have a reserved capacity to feed ourselves should there ever be a case where there is a disruption in the global supply chains,” Holness said.
In the meantime, the prime minister is encouraging local retailers to use more locally grown and manufactured products and be more strategic regarding the goods imported.
Holness is also urging Jamaicans to eat more home-grown food from the farms and less processed imported foods.
This comes considering the recent increases in the country’s import figures reflecting 3.9 per cent overall and 13 per cent for food from January to November 2019.
Holness said he is optimistic that with the advancement in technology, there will be a new level of agricultural output brought to the market.