PM Holness targets mass movement with daily national curfew

Prime Minister Andrew Holness (Photo: JIS)

Prime Minister Andrew Holness has announced additional measures to contain the anticipated spike in cases of the novel coronavirus by declaring an island-wide curfew.

Speaking at a press conference at Jamaica House on Monday (March 30), Holness further indicated that persons who returned to island as of March 18, and before passenger arrivals were banned, need to report to the Ministry of Health and be truthful about their status.

On the matter of the curfew, Holness noted that the measure was necessary as the government had recognised a significant increase in movement this past weekend across Jamaica.

The curfew is effective from 8:00 pm to 6:00 am daily starting Wednesday, April 1 and ending Wednesday, April 8.

“We have decided on some additional measures which we find at this time to be necessary given where we are. The police have been instructed to enforce an all-island curfew starting at 8:00 pm to 6:00 am and this starts on the April 1st to April 8th,” he said.

“There will be restrictions on public transportation and all movement, except those that will follow in the Gazette. We ask everyone to make the necessary arrangements in their daily affairs to ensure that they can be off the road,” Holness added.

The Prime Minister asserted that a full list of personnel and entity exemptions will be made public when the Gazette is published—and, off the bat, medical staff, security forces, and other essential services are greenlighted for ‘curfew immunity’.

Jamaica’s Prime Minister Andrew Holness

He further explained that special provisions will be made for certain industries, which will be made public on the Gazette’s publishing on Tuesday (March 31).

An order has been amended to mandate that persons who arrived in Jamaica between Wednesday, March 18 and Monday, March 23, and are yet to do so, to declare themselves to the health ministry immediately.

“They must report to the Ministry of Health, utilising the website we published or call the hotline, and we ask that you faithfully disclose all the information that is required⁠—particularly [that] of your health status and whether you were maintaining quarantine,” Holness urged.

The website is www.jamcovid19.moh.gov.jm and the hotline 888-ONELOVE.

“I cannot overemphasise the important of this to our national security, the safety of everyone and the health of the population. This is a turning point in this stage of the epidemic,” he warned.

For his part Minister of Health and Wellness Dr Christopher Tufton gave a breakdown of the four new confirmed cases of COVID-19.

All new patients are women and the details are as follows:

  • A 54-year-old woman from St Mary. Her method of infection is currently under investigation.
  • A 34-year-old woman from St James with a recent travel history from New York.
  • A 74-year-old woman from St Catherine with a recent travel history from New York.
  • As well as Jamaica’s first positive confirmation of a frontline health worker, a 45-year-old female, who encountered one of the previously confirmed positive cases.

Tufton, while lauding the efforts of the local medical fraternity at the forefront of Jamaica’s war against the novel coronavirus, assured the public that the health worker “is doing well, we believe her prognosis is very positive and she will recover.”

Minister of Health and Wellness Dr Christopher Tufton, speaks at a Jamaica House press conference. Looking on is Prime Minister Andrew Holness.

He said the healthcare worker is under isolation protocols and being treated.

Additionally, of the 36 confirmed cases, 23 are imported, 11 import-related and two are under investigation.

A total of 51 persons remain in isolation, with another 34 individuals under quarantine protocol at a government facility.

As at Monday evening, 362 samples have been tested by the National Influenza Centre, with 36 returning positive and 317 negatives. Minister Tufton disclosed that the results of nine tests are pending,

The Ministry of Health is also celebrating its first fully recovered patient, who tested positive in the St Ann’s Bay Hospital.

The individual was released on Sunday evening (March 29) around 10:00 pm, having passed both secondary tests to confirm they were no longer infectious.