Saturday 28 March, 2020

Jamaica adds 4 more countries to travel restrictions amid virus spread

Minister of Health and Wellness, Dr Christopher Tufton (centre), addresses journalists at a press conference Thursday. With the Minister are (from left) Permanent Secretary, Dunston Bryan and Chief Medical Officer, Dr Jacquiline Bisasor-McKenzie.

Minister of Health and Wellness, Dr Christopher Tufton (centre), addresses journalists at a press conference Thursday. With the Minister are (from left) Permanent Secretary, Dunston Bryan and Chief Medical Officer, Dr Jacquiline Bisasor-McKenzie.

Jamaica has expanded travel restrictions to more countries amid the rapid spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) globally.

The announcement was made Thursday by the Minister of Health and Wellness, Dr Christopher Tufton.

Apart from China, the list now includes Italy which has recorded 322 cases of the feared disease and 11 deaths; South Korea which has 1,261 cases and 12 deaths; Singapore with 91 cases and no deaths and Iran which has recorded 95 cases and 15 deaths.

According to the Ministry, the decision was taken to expand the list based on the risk assessment and the World Health Organisation’s Situation Report 37 on the COVID-19, dated February 26.

“This is having regard to the fact that the majority of cases in those countries have been due to in-country transmission,” the ministry said in a statement Thursday afternoon.

Apart from the named countries, the ministry said the situation in Japan, which is scheduled to host this summer’s Olympic Games is under review. To date, Japan has recorded 164 cases and one death. A decision will be made later as to whether to add Japan to the list.

Based on the expanded travel restrictions, all Jamaicans who have visited Italy, South Korea, Iran, and Singapore in the last 14 days will have landing privileges in accordance with the law but will be subject to a health assessment and quarantine.

“Persons who have visited Italy, South Korea, Iran and Singapore in the last 14 days and who do not have permanent residency or marriage exemption in Jamaica will not be granted landing privileges at any of the country’s ports of entry,” the ministry said.

Additionally, non-Jamaicans who have permanent residence and marriage exemptions who are landed and who had visited Italy, South Korea, Iran, and Singapore in the last 14 days will be subject to a health assessment and quarantine.

Persons who have visited the four countries and have been granted landing privileges and classified by the Ministry of Health and Wellness as high risk, will be quarantined in Government facilities. Those who are assessed by the ministry as low-risk will be quarantined at home under the supervision of the Parish Health Department.

Individuals returning from the four countries and who have been granted landing privileges and who display any symptom of COVID-19, will be placed in immediate isolation at a health facility.

The ministry said it will continue to assess the situation in light of the spread and will make recommendations for adjustments based on the risk assessment.

It disclosed that as of February 26, only five of 141 persons who arrived in Jamaica and who had been in China 14 days prior to arriving in the country, remain in quarantine in Government facilities.

There are two persons in isolation and the m inistry said it is awaiting their test results.

The number of quarantine facilities now stand at four in anticipation of new arrivals.

In the meantime, the National Coordinating Committee that is headed by Prime Minister Andrew Holness will hold its first meeting next week at which time it will examine all the preparedness functions of the entire Government apparatus.

There are now more than 82,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus, the vast majority in mainland China with over 2,800 deaths. Concern about the virus is growing as it has rapidly spread to at least 38 countries and territories and to every continent except Antartica. 

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