A Night Curfew Starts Tomorrow, and 38 COVID-19 Cases Now Confirmed in Jamaica

The latest news on COVID-19 in Jamaica seems rather mixed, but we have to take everything “one day at a time” these days.

Firstly, Prime Minister Andrew Holness announced at last night’s press briefing that a curfew will be imposed, beginning tomorrow (Wednesday, April 1) at 8:00 p.m. until 6:00 a.m., and ending at 6:00 a.m. on Wednesday, April 8. The Curfew Order was laid in Parliament today (March 31st), “in exercise of the powers conferred upon the Prime Minister by Section 26 (2) of the Disaster Risk Management Act” following his declaration of the island as a Disaster Area on March 13.

There is a long list of people who are exempt from the curfew – for your information and interest:

  • Members of Parliament and Parliament employees;
  • Permanent Secretaries;
  • Members of the Jamaica Constabulary Force and the Jamaica Defence Force;
  • Anyone employed in providing a service related to health, water, electricity, public works, sanitation, fire fighting, civil aviation or telecommunications;
  • Licensed veterinary surgeons;
  • Immigration officers and Customs Officers;
  • Correctional Services Officers;
  • People employed in the transportation of agricultural produce, livestock, or in the poultry industry “(including catching crew, poultry processing plant staff and the staff of feed mills)”;
  • People employed in the sugar cane industry;
  • People employed in tourist establishments;
  • People employed in services related to oil refining, the loading, distribution, transportation or retail of petroleum fuel, liquefied natural gas or any renewable energy source;
  • People employed in services related to loading and unloading ships and the storage and delivery of goods to and from docks, wharves and dock warehouses;
  • People employed in public transportation – the Jamaica Urban Transit Company or the Montego Bay Metro Company;
  • The Judiciary and people employed to the Courts;
  • People employed in the Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) sector;
  • People employed in the media – journalists, technicians, engineers and so on;
  • People employed in the private security business;
  • People employed at Jamaica Printing Services Limited;
  • People employed at the Toll Authority;
  • People employed to courier services;
  • People employed in the bauxite or alumina industry;
  • People authorized (in writing) by the Director General of the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management;
  • And people authorized by the Minister of National Security (and approved by Cabinet) “as an exempt service or activity.”

Also, the Order has been amended to allow markets to open from 6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays with effect from April 2 – which is actually by my calculation four hours per week longer than previously mandated.

One other important aspect of the Order is: “Each person who entered Jamaica after March 18, 2020, shall forthwith contact the Ministry of Health and Wellness” either via the website, by email (covid19@moh.gov.jm) or by telephone (numbers listed below) and provide information on their state of health.

No April Fools Day!

I should add that the Prime Minister, Minister Christopher Tufton and Chief Medical Officer (CMO) Dr. Jacqueline Bisasor-McKenzie made it abundantly (and repeatedly) clear that those who have arrived in the island since March 18 and not self-quarantined for two weeks as required are “a great risk for numbers to shoot up,” as the CMO put it. Out of the approximately 2,000 people who would have arrived before the borders closed on March 24, only around 400 have so far responded. Where are the others? Are they out there in the communities? If they are, and have not reported themselves, then they are at this point breaking the law.

Some graphs were also displayed at the press conference, including one which showed modeling of the possible spread in Jamaica. Ministry officials noted that failure to remain vigilant could see Jamaica’s infection numbers doubling: from every 8 days to every 5 days and then every 2 days (the current rate in New York is just over 2 days – which would be a disaster for us of course, as our health sector would be quickly overwhelmed).

This meme from the Barbadian Government is the equivalent of “Tan A Yuh Yaad” in Jamaican patois. In other words – Stay Home!
It’s a difficult situation. Today (again) the streets of downtown Kingston were crowded with people and we have all noted small crowds outside government offices and other establishments – during the day. Will a nightly curfew make any difference, many Jamaicans are asking? We shall see. This photo was tweeted today by Minister Tufton as an example of how not to do social distancing.

The issue of curfews – or “lockdowns” – is complicated. There are various versions of them across the English-speaking Caribbean now, some more stringent than others. 

  • Antigua and Barbuda is under a State of Emergency and has imposed a 24-hour curfew from midnight on Thursday, April 2 until Thursday, April 9;
  • Barbados, with 34 cases, has imposed a nightly curfew, from 8:00 p.m. until 6:00 a.m., until Tuesday, April 14;
  • Belize will be under a State of Emergency as of midnight on April 1 and under a 30-day nightly curfew from 8:00 p.m. until 5:00 a.m;
  • Dominica has 12 cases, but I am not sure if it is still under curfew;
  • Grenada is already under a 24-hour curfew until 7:00 p.m. on Monday, April 6, with people only allowed to leave their homes for medical emergencies and for food on select days when supermarkets will be open;
  • Saint Kitts and Nevis have imposed a 24-hour curfew from April 1 at 7:00 p.m. until Friday, April 3 at 6:00 a.m. and are under a State of Emergency;
  • Saint Lucia, which has 13 cases as of tonight, has announced a 24-hour curfew starting tomorrow at 5:00 a.m. until 5:00 a.m. on Tuesday, April 7, with people only allowed to leave their homes for medical emergencies. It has revoked all liquor licenses.

Meanwhile, Dominican Republic’s numbers continue to soar, with 208 new cases in 24 hours, bringing the total to 1,109. Its first case was on March 1. 42 patients have died.

Trinidad & Tobago has recorded its fourth death today. Its total number of cases is 89.

Saint Vincent and the Grenadines had one case, now recovered. It is now COVID-free!

I am very grateful to the Barbados-based @KevzPolitics (a great source of Caribbean news, with or without COVID-19) on Twitter for most of the above information). Do follow him! Also thanks to Buzz Caribbean for this great report! It gives a complete overview of the numbers.

This evening, we got an update on the numbers from the Ministry of Health and Wellness as follows:

KINGSTON, Jamaica. Tuesday, 31 March 2020. There are now 38 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Jamaica. Additional results received last evening from the National Influenza Centre, showed that of the nine pending results, seven samples tested negative, while two were positive for COVID-19.

The two new cases are:

  • a 48 year old female from St. Elizabeth with a travel history from Boston/Atlanta, USA, who arrived in the island on March 24  and
  • a 13 year old male from Kingston & St. Andrew. His mode of transmission is under investigation.

 There are now twenty-four (24) imported cases, eleven (11) import-related and three (3) cases are under investigation.

The Ministry was this afternoon advised of the death of one of its recovering COVID19 patients at the University Hospital of the West Indies (UHWI).  Reports are that the patient was found unresponsive and was noted to have had a cardiac arrest. Resuscitation measures were unsuccessful.

In the meantime, a second patient [Patient 3.1, from St. James] has recovered from COVID-19 and released from hospital.

There is much more to talk about…but, next time!


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