Jamaica’s coronavirus cases climb to 30

Minister of Health and Wellness Dr Christopher Tufton and Prime Minister Andrew Holness at Jamaica House. (Photo: JIS)

Minister of Health and Wellness Christopher Tufton has confirmed four new cases of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), bringing the national tally to 30.

Tufton, speaking at a press conference on Friday (March 27), 20 or two-thirds of the cases are imported, eight are import-related with another two under investigation.

Details of the new patients are as follows:

  • An 87-year-old male from Manchester with a travel history from New York
  • A 51-year-old male from St Catherine with a travel history from New York
  • A 52-year-old male with no travel history but a close contact of another patient who returned to the island from Canada. The patient returning from Canada reported ill shortly after arriving to Jamaica.
  • A 56-year-old male from Manchester with no travel history but was in contact with tourists from several countries. Investigations in this case are ongoing.

To date, 250 samples have been tested by the National Influenza Centre, with 220 returning negative and 30 confirmed positive for COVID-19.

Minister Tufton further explained that two results are pending.

Tufton noted with concern at the number of Jamaicans who returned to the island from the US and other affected areas before incoming passenger arrivals were banned, however, measures are being taken to publicise the flight numbers and encourage the individuals to home-quarantine.

For his part, Prime Minister Andrew Holness said that the local coronavirus outbreak is still in its early stages but warned that the national situation could deteriorate very quickly.

Prime Minister Andrew Holness

“This could change overnight and today we examined some of the threats that would trigger a spike in our numbers. The biggest threat would be persons who returned to Jamaica within the last 14 days, specifically those who returned from March 18 to March 23, who have not kept themselves in quarantine and circulating [within] the population, possibly asymptomatic and spreading the disease,” Holness argued.

As a countermeasure, Holness declared that all manifests are currently under government scrutiny and the data collected being used to publicise passenger flight numbers and dates of flights.

“We are asking citizens to pass on information [of these persons] to the relevant authorities; we need to know. The manifests are with the police and the Ministry of Health and they have been instructed to identify the persons on the manifest and conduct checks based upon addresses and other leads to find persons who have come into the island and not quarantining,” Holness said.

When these checks are done and the individuals located, if they have not observed the quarantine protocols the Prime Minister indicated that charges will be laid against them.

Additionally, a website is to be launched for recent arrivals to register and report any symptoms to the government. The website is jamcovid19.moh.gov.jm