Increased virus cases, community spread expected with border reopening – Gov’t

The Government of Jamaica is warnings citizens to be prepared for an increase in the number of coronavirus (COVID-19) cases, and possible community spread of the virus, as the nation introduces new entry control measures.

Prime Minister of Jamaica Andrew Holness

Prime Minister Andrew Holness said Jamaican nationals will be allowed re-entry as of tomorrow, June 1, with international travellers allowed entry beginning June 15.

With the return of international travel, Holness said there is likely to be an increase in positive cases of the virus.

Health Minister Dr Christopher Tufton, who Jamaica House virtual press briefing with Holness, said even with the ‘best and moth faithful implementation of measures’, there is likely to be an increase of cases.

Tufton said resources must be used to mitigate and target risks to minimise the impact on the nation, with Jamaicans expected to take on greater personal responsibility.

Minister of Health and Wellness, Dr Christopher Tufton

Cases will grow exponentially, Tufton said, adding that Jamaicans must do their part to protect themselves and each other as a country.

He said that the public health authority accepts that the restrictive measures were temporary and that there would eventually be a need for a return towards normality and the return to work and increased economic activity. He said the public health authority is prepared, and continues to prepare, for the “inevitable” increase in cases once restrictions are lifted.

Further, even with testing of returning nationals and international travellers, Tufton said there is a margin of error, depending on factors such as when the virus was contracted and how long someone has had it, that could impact the results. As such, even with mandatory quarantine measures, it is possible that there will be people who take the virus into their communities, giving way to community spread.

However, Tufton said any likely spread can be stemmed if people follow public health advisories to practice social distancing, personal hygiene, maintaining physical distance of six feet, avoiding crowds and wearing masks.