Monday 6 July, 2020

WATCH: US couple vacationing locally, lauds Jamaica’s COVID-19 fight

An American couple with Jamaican ties has lauded the Andrew Holness Administration’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, while bashing inconsistencies in the approach to tackling the virus in the United States.

In a more than 12-minute-long video posted on social media, the couple who arrived in Jamaica on Saturday from New Orleans, Louisiana via Miami and the Sangster International Airport in Montego Bay, St James, was effusive in their praise of the Jamaican authorities, even stating that they now felt much safer in Jamaica than in their home country.

The couple said they could not wait for their children to join them on the Northern Caribbean island where they are vacationing in the capital city of Kingston.

At the start of the video, it appeared that they were being critical of Jamaican authorities because of the delays that were caused by the protocols that have been established to limit the spread of the coronavirus on the island. Tighter measures were introduced at the ports of entry when the Government reopened the country’s borders on June 1.

However, the visiting couple’s spirits were not dampened by the fact that there was a backlog at the airport following the arrival of three aircraft at roughly the same time. That, coupled with the necessary screenings, including COVID-19 tests for all incoming passengers, added to the processing time.

But, rather than complaining, the couple lauded the Jamaican authorities for the strict COVID-19 regime in place, even if it meant having their hands sprayed with sanitiser at six different points while they were still inside the airport.

“Every five to 10 feet someone was spraying you with hand sanitiser,” said the woman. She noted that the chair she sat on was wrapped in plastic “And before I sat down, someone rushed in, sprayed it down with some type of sanitising spray and sprayed the table.”

She added that “The woman who was taking our information changed her gloves, all of them had on their N-95 masks and face shields. This was happening at every step of the process.”

Her male companion noted that before they were allowed to leave the airport, they had to download the Jam-Covid App, which, among other things, has a message from Prime Minister Andrew Holness.

The Jamaican-born man who was raised in the United States, said the app has “A dashboard of all the cases (of COVID-19) in Jamaica, parish by parish; how many people were sick, how many people died, (and) the recovery cases.”

He noted that the app is also used to track persons entering the country, and he especially liked that the app allows not just the authorities, but visitors, to “know what is going on”.

He stated that “That was very, very impressive (for me) to get that app”.

The couple said it was only after doing the COVID-19 test and completing additional paperwork that they were allowed to claim their baggage and leave the airport.

“As soon as I left the parish where the airport is in Montego Bay, the phone went off and it was like ‘Where (are) you going, you need to check in with us, you’re travelling. It was clear that the geo-tracking system works,” said the female.

She was particularly impressed by the fact that even the man selling sweets on the corner, as well as the guy wiping windshields on motor vehicles on the roadway were wearing mask. And she was also impressed by the fact that before entering a store, a temperature check is done and hands are sanitised, “and there’s no entry (allowed) without a mask (being worn)”.

She added that “This has been our consistent experience… and something we wanted to come on and share,” pointing out that they felt safe to travel to Jamaica, something which the Jamaican authorities would be pleased with amid stepped-up efforts to lure tourists back to the island.

The female said: “I must tell you that the most unsafe part of our journey here was while we were in the United States. I have never felt safer about a situation…”

In contrast, the couple spoke of their journey from New Orleans to the airport in Miami that it was like travelling through a twilight zone, as few people were wearing masks, and very little social distancing was taking place.

They criticised the US authorities, contending that the ad hoc approach to combatting the coronavirus in the world’s most powerful nation has notable produced huge infection and death tolls. That, they said, included common reference to the coronavirus as a “little flu” that would soon pass away.

“This is arrogance,” said the visiting woman while noting that the package that has been put together by the Jamaican authorities and made available to persons entering the country was of international standards.

“That’s exactly why you see them (Jamaica) having (only) 10 deaths,” she stated.

“We talk about Jamaica being a third world country when first world America is… seeing hundreds of thousands of Americans dying from arrogance,” she remarked.

Her partner, who indicated that he has worked in several Caribbean islands since 2007, noted that the current US death toll of over 120,000 from the virus is up to three times the total population of some of the smaller islands where he has worked.

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