Wednesday 28 October, 2020

Police to be alerted if home-quarantined ship workers leave premises

The police are to be alerted if Jamaican crew members who are to begin disembarking Royal Caribbean Cruise Line’s (RCCL) Adventure of the Seas on Thursday, and who are placed in home quarantine, move outside their residences.

This is according to Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health and Wellness, Dunstan Bryan, who was speaking at a digital coronavirus (COVID-19) press conference at the Ministry’s New Kingston offices on Wednesday.

Prime Minister Andrew Holness announced on Monday that those among the 1,044 Jamaicans aboard the ship who test negative for the virus will be placed in home quarantine for 14 days. He said they would be monitored using geo-fencing technology. This is to be undertaken using the Jam COVID-19 smartphone app.

Bryan told the press conference that the geo-fencing feature of the app will cause a ping to be generated on a quarantined person in a specific location every 30 minutes.

“(For) the person outside of the area of the geo-fencing, the ping will alert a central point where the JCF (Jamaica Constabulary Force) will be alerted to the fact that the person has moved out of the specific geo location,” Bryan stated.

He said all persons who will disembark the ship will be asked to give consent to being tracked in this way. He said the app will also, at random times during the 14-day quarantine period, send a text message at which point in time the individual must make a video call on the app which will identify their location. It will also ask the quarantined person to verify certain information at the geo location. Additionally, persons will also have to provide regular updates, including temperature checks.

For his part, Health and Wellness Minister, Dr Christopher Tufton, appealed to those who will be in home quarantine to behave responsibly for the sake of their families and country.

“We will have to depend on individuals to be faithful to the requirements that will be placed on them as a condition of them going home.

“Beyond that though, in time to come, we intend to deploy another technology device that would be more secure in terms of affixing it to the individual and if that individual were to move out of a particular space or tamper with the device, it will provide a signal to the monitoring infrastructure to respond. That is a more secure arrangement, but that is in train and not yet available,” said Tufton.

Meanwhile, the first 200 of the 1,044 Jamaicans aboard the Adventure of the Seas are to on Thursday begin the process of disembarking the ship that they have been stuck on for months.

The vessel sailed into Jamaican waters and docked at the Falmouth Cruise Ship Pier on Tuesday after much uncertainty and frantic last-minute negotiations between RCCL’s management and the Jamaican Government.

Dr Jacquiline Bisasor-McKenzie

Chief Medical Officer, Dr Jacquiline Bisasor-McKenzie, told the press conference that priority will be given to certain categories of crew members, who will be allowed to disembark first.

"In conjunction with the ship's personnel, we have identified persons who would be considered to be of high priority in terms of persons who have any kind of medical illness or any kind of personal situation that would require them getting home quickly. We have identified those persons and they will be disembarked quickly," said the CMO.

She explained that the process should take some time as, apart from testing each crew member, interviews are also to be conducted “to ensure that everything is in order”.

She said crew members are also to be sensitised about the situation in Jamaica. This will see healthcare workers providing each individual with information about COVID-19 and what is happening in the country as it relates to the management of the disease. They are also to be told why they have to be placed in quarantine or isolation.

The 200 crew members who will disembark the ship on Thursday were processed by immigration officers from the Passport, Immigration and Citizenship Agency (PICA), as well as Jamaica Customs, on Wednesday.

“Once it is that they come off, they will be sampled, the samples will be collected from them and then quarantine orders will be served. They will be transferred to a quarantine facility, where they will remain for 72 hours until the test results are available.

“Once we get back their results then arrangements will be made for home quarantine for these persons, depending on the results,” Bisasor-McKenzie said.

Persons who test positive for COVID-19 are to be isolated, while those who test negative will be required to isolate at home.

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