Sandy Bay under COVID quarantine; church linked to several cases
File photo of social workers preparing to bring food to a quarantined community in Bull Bay, St Andrew in March.
The Sandy Bay community in Clarendon has become the second in the central Jamaica parish to be placed under quarantine following a spike in COVID-19 cases.
A 14-day quarantine which began at 6 Thursday morning is now in effect for the entire community. It will remain in force until Thursday, August 20 in the first instance.
The Ministry of Health and Wellness, in a news release, noted that in recent days a number of COVID-19 cases have been reported in the area and cases of possible spread are under investigation. The recent cases include two admissions to the May Pen hospital, and a church which reportedly breached COVID-19 protocols appears to be at the centre of the outbreak.
The health ministry said case investigations and contact tracing have yielded six positive contacts of the two hospitalised cases including an imported case.
“In addition, another 13 persons have been found with symptoms and have been sampled. There are also two confirmed cases and a suspected case from Rosewell, a community that neighbors the Sandy Bay area and from which several persons attend the same church,” said the release.
Health officials said community surveillance was further carried out in Sandy Bay and neighboring communities where there is “significant cause for concern because of a lack of adherence to infection prevention and control measures.
“Authorities report that due to the number of positive cases and the number of persons with symptoms in the community, officials have concluded that there is considerable risk of further transmission and infection in this community,” said the ministry, adding that “crowd gathering was noted without use of face masks in one church where several persons with respiratory illnesses were noted”.
“Members of the church have been found to be positive”.
The health ministry is concerned that exposed persons in the community may develop infection and cause spread to other members in the community resulting in a rapid increase in the numbers of positive cases.
“This is due to the high movement of persons within the affected households within the community; the high population density of the area identified and the high vulnerability of persons within the community to severe illness due to age, comorbidities and other socio-economic factors”.
The ministry explained that the quarantine of Sandy Bay is to restrict the movement of members of the community to slow or prevent new exposures and hence new infections by:
- Further testing of community members;
- Close monitoring of members of the community for development of symptoms;
- Early containment of newly detected cases;
- Prevention of new exposures and transmission of disease; and
- Education of members of the community’s infection prevention and control measures.
The boundaries for the quarantine which spans approximately 0.6 sq kilometers are as follows: