‘DON’T PANIC!’ New coronavirus could affect 1.7 million Jamaicans

Prime Minister Andrew Holness says Jamaicans should not panic over new coronavirus.

Health authorities in Jamaica are projecting that up to 1.7 million Jamaicans could be affected by the new coronavirus (COVID-19) should it arrive on the island.

That’s more than half of Jamaica’s population but Prime Minister Andrew Holness said there’s no need to panic.

“There is a sense sometimes that when these emergencies loom there should be panic. I’m not saying here to Jamaica that we don’t have a serious situation, that it doesn’t require diligence and an elevated sense of caution—but there is no need to panic. There’s absolutely no need to panic because that panic, sometimes can lead to actions that can cause long-term effects…,” said Holness, who was speaking at the public session of the National Disaster Risk Management Council Thursday (March 5).

According to Holness, Jamaica has the human and technical capacity to face and overcome this threat. He said there’s no doubt that the possible impact on the economy will be short-term.

The 1.7 million projection was disclosed moments after by Health Minister Dr Christopher Tufton, who said spoke after the prime minister.

Health Minister Christopher Tufton says up to 1.7 million Jamaicans could be affected by coronavirus.

“The model is suggesting that if the virus comes to Jamaica and follows the normal pattern of spread as we have had in terms of other SARS-type or influenza-type occurrences, we could see up to 1.1 to 1.7 million persons in the population being impacted by the virus,” he said.

“Now I hasten to say that some people will have it and it only means drinking some orange juice—the virus does not affect everybody the same way, it’s just like the common cold. From that you would have just under 2000 hospitalisation, in year one I’m talking, and you would have over 360 to 400 ICU-related admissions…,” added Minister Tufton, who noted that the older population could be most impacted. He said the part of the strategy would be to prioritise admissions and relocate other patients.