Jamaican Minister Andrew Holness is warning travelers that stiff penalties could follow if they do not adhere to the country’s quarantine order.
The Caribbean island is working hard to curtail the spread of COVID-19. So far, 21 Jamaicans have tested positive for the virus and one death has been recorded. The government is bracing itself for a potential spike in numbers.
Holness addressed the nation at a press conference in Jamaica House on Tuesday evening, where he ordered residents who have recently returned from traveling abroad to self-quarantine.
“Every person who entered Jamaica as at the 18th of March 2020 must be in quarantine for a further 14 days after the initial seven days expire,” Holness said. “So, if you came in on the 18th, you should be in quarantine already, but we know that there are many Jamaicans who came in and did not go into quarantine. By this order, you must go into quarantine.”
Holness says that the government will be sure to enforce the order — promising to hunt them down and contain potential carriers of the virus.
“Just to be clear, we will be scrubbing through the [flight] manifest, and where we can identify addresses, we will be doing sample checks and enforcing. [This is] very important because we need to be able to identify the cases that have been imported into the island so that we can start to trace around them and determine clusters for containment,” he told journalists, following Cabinet deliberations.
I ask Jamaica to join me in thanking members of the National Security Force who have all been working on the frontline defending and serving Jamaica, especially during the #COVID19 pandemic.
Your efforts are laudable. We salute you all. 🇯🇲 pic.twitter.com/BvqmRjOMr3
— Andrew Holness (@AndrewHolnessJM) March 24, 2020
Last week, Dr. Christopher Tufton, the Minister of Health and Wellness, said that self-quarantine was the fastest way to combat the spread of COVID-19.
“For all persons entering from a country where there is internal spread of the virus [as well as] the containment and restriction of movement, if you have to move, then you [should] manage your movement in a way to reduce the possibility of you transmitting the virus to someone else, should you have the virus,” he said at the time.
TheHub.News spoke to Jamaican resident Daniel Francis, who works as a farmer in Bushy Park St. Catherine.
He says that despite the government’s strict guidelines, many Jamaicans have not been heavily impacted by the pandemic.
“We are not feeling the effects of COVID-19 yet in my area, but we can see that businesses are taking it seriously,” Francis shared.
“You can’t enter a store, or a bank — anywhere without getting your hands disinfected. The government gives frequent bulletins, but last night, they said that they would give just one last bulletin because it’s gotten to the stage where it’s already started spreading throughout the community. I guess this is where it’s going to affect me and other members of the community.”
Francis adds that while some members of his community are worried about the spread of the virus, most are more concerned about how the effects of COVID-19 would impact the economy.