Wednesday 25 November, 2020

Waterford, Whitfield Town under tighter curfew as COVID cases spike

Health officials conducting house-to-house surveys in Waterford on Sunday.

Health officials conducting house-to-house surveys in Waterford on Sunday.

Whitfield Town in lower St Andrew and Waterford in Portmore, St Catherine have been placed under tighter COVID-19 restrictions which include a curfew that begins at 6pm each day, running until 5 the following morning.

The curfew, which became effective on Tuesday, October 6, is aimed at stemming a sharp rise in COVID-19 cases in the two densely populated communities which have been deemed COVID-19 hotspots. It will remain in force for two weeks until October 20.

Prime Minister Andrew Holness made the announcement Tuesday in a statement to the House of Representatives.

He said Whitfield Town has 21 active cases of the coronavirus while Waterford has 24 active cases and three deaths. Overall, Jamaica has recorded 7,109 cases of COVID-19 and 123 deaths since the first case was confirmed on the island on March 10.

During the period of the curfew, only essential workers with proper identification will be allowed to enter and exit the defined areas similar to the lockdown that was imposed in St Catherine in April.

“The gathering limit will be no more than six persons in any public place from October 7 to October 19. All the other existing restrictions such as mask wearing and physical distancing will be strictly enforced,” Holness warned.

He said these actions of the state will be underpinned by increasing public education and awareness through extensive community engagement.

“We have to assume that everyone we come in contact with is carrying the virus. This means that each citizen must take responsibility for their own protection by following the protocols that we constantly repeat,” Holness said, reminding that Jamaica is in the community transmission phase of the virus.

He stressed that the government does not take these measures lightly. However, he said that when the Ministry of Health examined the data, “the fear was that in these densely populated areas, that if additional measures are not put in place, then the potential for a spike in those areas would be high”. 

The prime minister said the decision was taken to ensure that the capacity of the health system to respond is not overwhelmed in these areas.

The curfew will allow for movement for people to go to work and to conduct their business.

But Holness is imploring persons in the defined areas who do not need to be on the road to stay indoors.

He explained that the more restrictive measure is a cross between a curfew and placing a community under quarantine. He said technically, it is implementing quarantine measures but, having regard to the nature of the area, it would almost be impossible to quarantine them.

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