PRIME Minister Andrew Holness has issued a stern warning to individuals who ignore the quarantine order, promising stiff penalties as the country pushes to curtail the spread of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
Speaking at a Jamaica House press conference last evening, Holness announced measures to limit the impact of the virus, declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization, including an extension of the period for which people who recently arrived in the island must 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. 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.
“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.
Last week, the Government announced that all travellers from countries where there is local transmission of the COVID-19 are required to self-quarantine for up to 14 days.
At that time, Minister of Health and Wellness Dr Christopher Tufton said that this was one of the most effective methods of reducing the spread of the virus.
“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 then.
Yesterday, the prime minister stressed that this is “critical” in the fight against the disease that has resulted in more than 14,000 deaths globally.
“…There are many persons coming into Jamaica, some of them don’t know that they have the virus, some of them are moving around, and what we have detected is that there is a significant number who do not want to follow the quarantine rules and they put the entire population at jeopardy,” Holness said.
“So, if you came in on the 18th of March or any time after that, of course up to the time of the incoming restriction you must be in quarantine… Once you came here on a commercial aircraft or even if you came in on a private aircraft there is a manifest which requires information that would allow us to be able to track and trace, which is why we have made it a public duty for us that once we have discovered someone who has been confirmed, we make a public notice that we have a confirmed case that came in on a particular flight so that everyone on that flight can be aware. We ask you to make contact with the Ministry of Health so that we can know your health status, and then we ask you to quarantine.
“The Ministry of Health has limited resources, but a part of their surveillance will be to look at that manifest and do random checks to make sure that we don’t have people who came in who are not observing the quarantine, and the quarantine laws are very serious. We have established that where we find breaches we will enforce, and I don’t think I need to say anything more on enforcement,” he added.
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