One year later: Jamaica and the coronavirus

A year ago today, Jamaica confirmed its first case of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

Minister of Health and Wellness, Dr Christopher Tufton

At the time, much was still unknown about the virus which originated in Wuhan, China, but many feared that its arrival on any shore would spell the worst.

Jamaica’s first confirmed case was a female who had travelled to the United Kingdom, which would go on to be one of the worse-hit nations globally. She arrived on the island on March 4, before heading to the hospital five days later, which led to her being isolated.

Her positive result would be the first of 27,465 confirmed cases, up to March 9, 2021.

Ten days later, the island recorded its first death related to the virus. Four hundred and fifty-nine others would follow up to March 9, 2021.

Over the course of the year, many changes would take places across the nation.

The parish of St Catherine was placed under a lockdown on April 15, lasting initially for a week but later extended, following at outbreak at a call centre in Portmore.

An aerial view of Kingston, Jamaica.

An international travel ban, which virtually crippled the tourism industry, months-long curfews, lockdowns for several towns, a halt on the entertainment industry, and growing restrictions would come to characterise much of the year past.

Most recently, the nation recorded three consecutive days of record daily cases, peaking with 878 positives on Sunday.

All this before the island received its first batch of coronavirus vaccines, which would come the following Monday.

The arrival of Jamaica’s first batch of coronavirus vaccines on Monday.

Today, exactly a year after the crisis began locally, Jamaica begins administering the first of 50,000 shots which most hope will be a turning point in the pandemic.

However, with many still skeptical of the vaccines, and even more continuing to flout established protocols, only time will tell when, and if, we see a gradual return to ‘normalcy’, if one remembers what that looks like.