The Jamaica government says it will not be repatriating nationals from Wuhan, China, the epicentre of the deadly novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) that has killed more than 700 people in China since the outbreak.
“Based on the advice of its technical experts in the management of public health matters, it has accepted the strong recommendation not to proceed at this time with the repatriation of Jamaicans from Wuhan,” Foreign Minister, Kamina Johnson Smith, said in a statement.
“We will do all that is possible to support Jamaicans in China.”— Johnson Smith
She said that she had been mandated by Prime Minister Andrew Holness and the Cabinet to explore the possibility of repatriating Jamaican citizens from Wuhan.
“I reached out immediately to partner countries who were evacuating their citizens, explored regional partnerships with countries who also have students and teachers there, as well as a sole Government of Jamaica approach by charter of sufficient capacity to cover the distance.
Limited by capacity
“Regrettably, none of those options proved workable. We note that many foreign nationals remain in Wuhan as several countries who evacuated citizens focused primarily on government employees, and were also ultimately limited by capacity and other considerations,” said Johnson Smith.
“Through our continued dialogue with relevant MDAs (ministries, departments and agencies), they assessed the risks involved; the current circumstances including the still unabated dengue and flu season, as well as efforts being made to expand the capacity of the health care system to quarantine or isolate persons, based on the natural flow of travel to Jamaica. In that context, they recommended that this avenue not be pursued at this time,” she added.
The Foreign Minister said that the government is encouraged by and continued to give thanks for reports that, to date, all Jamaican citizens in China remain in good health.
She said that she also wanted to assure the public that notwithstanding the current assessment, the government will continue to monitor the situation in China.
“We will do all that is possible to support Jamaicans in China even with our small staff in Beijing, along with the support of the Jamaican Association in China and the Chinese authorities, through our respective embassies,”’ she said.