Sunday 31 May, 2020

Travel ban placed on thousands for not reporting to health authorities

Prime Minister Andrew Holness (file photo)

Prime Minister Andrew Holness (file photo)

Thousands of persons from some 7,000 individuals who arrived in the island between March 18 and 24 and are yet to report to the authorities as required by law, have been barred from leaving the country.

The Passport, Immigration and Citizenship Agency (PICA) has been instructed to enforce such a ban, Prime Minister Andrew Holness told a Jamaica House press conference on Friday. The offenders are now effectively on a watch list.

Holness repeated his warning that those persons who continue to put the health of the entire nation at risk by not adhering to an order to contact the authorities and self-quarantine at home, will face prosecution.

They are facing a fine of up to $1 million and/or imprisonment, and may be forced into Government-run quarantine facilities when found. An active search is now under way for the persons. Additionally, their names are likely to be ultimately published in press.

The latest warning from the prime minister came on the same day that Jamaica recorded its 53rd case of the deadly coronavirus (COVOD-19), which has since moved to 55. This is a little more than double the 26 cases on record the previous week.

By not reporting to the Ministry of Health and Wellness, the 4,500 persons are violating the Disaster Risk Management Act, and are potentially exposing others to the virus as they move throughout the country, a situation that could lead to rapid community spread.

The prime minister had previously reported that roughly 1,600 of those who entered the country during the period, subsequently left the island. About 900 have since reported to the Health Ministry as required.

“We will now, as we find people, charge them. And we will now, where required or as necessary, place them into state quarantine,” Holness told the press conference.

“Those persons continue to pose a public health risk… they continue to pose an extremely high threat to the health and lives of all Jamaicans in relation to the transmission of COVID-19,” he said.

“There are those who might say 'they can't find me'… Well, we may not be able to find you, but you will not be able to leave the island, and we will tighten our dragnet to find you,” the prime minister warned.

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