No longer 15? Health Ministry clarifies why Jamaica’s positive COVID-19 cases drop to 12

Minister of Health and Wellness Dr Christopher Tufton

Minister of Health and Wellness Dr Christopher Tufton says Jamaica has revised its current number of positive novel coronavirus (COVID-19) cases to 12 as follow-up tests ruled out three others from the island’s preliminary tally of 15.

According to Tufton, the first figures, released around midnight on Monday (March 16), were made public in an effort to counteract uncorroborated reports circulating on social media.

“The actual positive numbers are 12. We had five preliminary positives up to last night and I should say this. Ideally, we don’t give preliminary numbers, but I will admit that we’ve had a lot of fake news out there; that’s created a lot of mischief. So, we did [release the preliminaries], in the interest of trying to overcome the need for speculating,” he said at a press conference at Jamaica House.

“Since this evening, two of those tests came back positive, three negative. So, we really have 12 positive cases in Jamaica,” Tufton explained further.

In his latest status report, the minister noted that since January 31, some 340 individuals have come into Jamaica from a country of interest.

The official confirmed count is 12 cases, with another 23 persons under isolation conditions in government facilities.

A total of 26 persons are being quarantined in government facilities across the island, with 43 more following quarantine protocols at home.

The 7- & 8-Miles areas of Bull Bay, St Andrew remain under quarantine since becoming the epicentre of community spread in Jamaica with medical teams from the Kingston and St Andrew Health Department visiting 269 households.

The medical teams have interviewed 642 out of the estimated 12,000 population in Bull Bay, and one person as thus far exhibited symptoms of COVID-19 and since transferred to isolation.

Additionally, Minister Tufton declared that all persons arriving in the island from countries where local transmission of COVID-19 has been confirmed are now required to self-quarantine for a period not exceeding 14 days.

The new guidelines also apply to tourists boarding in hotels; persons will be free to leave Jamaica at their scheduled departure date, even if it is before the end of the 14-day quarantine period, as long as they do not become ill or meet the case definition for COVID-19.

If these tourists develop symptoms, however, they will be immediately isolated.