Jamaica’s immigration officials prepared to handle coronavirus – PICA

The Passport, Immigration and Citizenship Agency (PICA) says the nation’s immigration officers are adequately prepared to monitor all official and unofficial entry points into the country for the novel coronavirus, also known as COVID-19.

PICA’s Chief Executive Officer, Andrew Wynter

PICA’s Chief Executive Officer, Andrew Wynter, said immigration officers have been educated about the necessary precautionary measures to take following the outbreak of COVID-19.

“We have been having sensitisation sessions with them, and these sessions are held in association with the Ministry of Health and Wellness, and public health persons, at the ports of entry,” he pointed out.

“We are also keeping them informed about the various developments regarding the virus, as we have been meeting with the Ministry of Health and Wellness and they have kept us in the loop, especially as it relates to announcements or any new measures that are coming out,” Mr Wynter added.

Thermal screening is being used in some airports.

He noted that immigration officers had also been allocated cleaning agents since the outbreak.  

“We have issued them gloves, hand sanitisers, wipes and spoken to them about how to clean down their areas, and we have also issued them masks,” he said.

Mr Wynter argued that partnerships with other Government organisations are critical.

“We work closely with them in order to ensure that whatever policies, procedures and measures taken are implemented by us. We collaborate with the Quarantine Authority, so if there are passengers who have to be quarantined or have not met the health requirements, some of them have been refused entry to Jamaica,” he explained.

According to Mr Wynter, all major ports of entry are being monitored by the relevant authorities. 

“The two international airports, the cruise-ship areas, all the official ports and some unofficial areas like the dock clubs are being manned by our officials. Jamaica is an island, so we have some unique challenges, so a majority of the persons visiting the country come through our two international airports and there are persons who are coming off cruise ships who come to one of the five cruise-ship piers, and all these are monitored by both immigration and quarantine officers,” he said.   

Citizens are being encouraged to educate themselves about COVID-19.

Among the preventative measures outlined is the frequent washing of hands.

“We encourage all Jamaicans to play their part. We have a responsibility, so if you have friends overseas, advise them that they need to go to quarantine and what the measures are that they should take. If you need information, visit the Ministry of Health and Wellness’ website, as they have a wealth of information,” he advised.

COVID-19, which was first reported in Wuhan, China in December 2019, has, so far, claimed the lives of more than 3,300 people, with nearly 97,000 people infected in more than 80 countries.