COVID-19 Update: 47 Cases, Curfew Shenanigans, the Homeless in Jamaica and Generosity


This evening, the Ministry of Health and Wellness shared that we have three new cases today. Details are below.

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KINGSTON, Jamaica. Thursday, April 2, 2020: The National Influenza Centre has advised that of the five pending test results from yesterday (April 1), two samples have tested negative while three are positive for the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19. This brings the total number of cases in Jamaica to 47.

The new cases are: 

  • A couple from St Elizabeth with a travel history from New York, with the female, aged 79, and the male 73 years old.
  • A 32-year-old male from Portland, with no travel history. His mode of transmission is under investigation.

There are now 27 imported cases, 17 import-related and three are under investigation.

Jamaica has tested a total of 476 samples, including those tested for Severe Acute Respiratory Infections. Of the 476 samples, three results are pending, while 47 samples were positive, and 426 were negative.

Also, some news from yesterday: six new cases, all connected to the case in Corn Piece, Clarendon (that community remains under quarantine). One man from Westmoreland died, bringing the total to two deaths, and one under investigation. Also:

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Meanwhile, Minister Christopher Tufton chaired a meeting of a Special Select Parliamentary Committee on COVID-19 today. Committee members are: Mrs. Marlene Malahoo Forte, Dr. Norman Dunn, Mrs. Juliet Holness, Mrs. Marisa Dalrymple Philbert, Dr. Morais Guy, Mr. Mark Golding, Mr. Horace Daley, Dr. Angela Brown Burke.

NOTE: If you don’t have a social media account, the Public Broadcasting Corporation of Jamaica (PBCJ) broadcasts all press briefings and parliamentary sessions on YouTube. Click on the link! 

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What’s happening in the rest of the Caribbean? Well, both Barbados (with 46 cases) as of Friday, and Antigua/Barbuda starting tonight (with 9 cases) will be under 24-hour curfews, joining Saint Lucia (13 cases).Trinidad and Tobago’s numbers have reached 94 positive cases. Here’s a Gleaner round-up of the number of cases across the region.

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The Select Parliamentary Committee on Public Health (photo: Minister Christopher Tufton on Twitter)

From what I heard at this parliamentary meeting, there was rather too much unnecessary politicking, with Opposition committee member Horace Dalley (who represents a Clarendon constituency) suggesting that not enough testing was being done. It must be hard for the technical people from the Ministry to respond to some of these arguments. They were very careful in their replies, because it is so easy for their words to be nuanced and twisted. Significantly though, the Chief Epidemiologist Dr. Karen Webster Kerr (who often sounds nervous) noted that health care workers are afraid to take tests of suspected COVID-19 cases, because of a “fear of the unknown.” 

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Police get ready to go on patrol in Half Way Tree, Kingston, last night. They must be incredibly stretched during COVID-19 time, but Police Commissioner Antony Anderson observed that being stretched to the limit is “our reality.” Nothing new… (Photo: Ian Allen/Gleaner)

Meanwhile, the first night of the curfew descended…I saw one man walking down our street during the early part of the evening, clapping his hands (?) Later, a couple of viral videos popped up on social media, with groups of defiant (and profane) young men declaring that they were not planning to stay inside. Their expletive-laden bravado was widely broadcast and the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) charged ten people for breaches under the Disaster Risk Management Act last night – mostly in western Jamaica. A television report just now showed residents of Jones Town playing some kind of cat-and-mouse game with the police, dancing around in the street and then running when a police car arrived. Can we grow up, please? This is not a game. 

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A drones-eye view of the curfew, courtesy of the Gleaner.

There was another video showing an older gentleman (whom the JCF described as a “well-known peanut vendor”) who was arrested. He said that he was homeless. In fact, he “and many others,” according to the JCF’s tweet, are “domiciled” in a section of the market. Do they sleep among the stalls? Or is that their actual home?

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By the way, the Independent Commission of Investigations (INDECOM) says it should be included in the exemptions to the Curfew Order. This is important for communities and I hope it will happen soon. 

This raises the whole issue of the homeless and most vulnerable in Jamaica. How are they being provided for at this time? The Ministry of Local Government and Community Development has been busy sanitizing infirmaries and the Golden Age Home and distributing care packages to the homeless; it is also setting up a 100-bed retrofitted shelter in downtown Kingston, which should have been ready for this evening’s curfew. I hope so.

Meanwhile, I am very happy to see the partnership among the Council for Voluntary Social Services (CVSS), the Private Sector Organization of Jamaica (PSOJ) and the awesome American Friends of Jamaica “to mobilize resources to support those negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.” In other words, they are on a fund-raising binge.

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Here are the details if you would like to contribute to the PSOJ COVID-19 Jamaica Response Fund: Donations are being sought internationally through partnership with American Friends of Jamaica (AFJ) who are providing their donation platform through which funds can be contributed via credit card and wire transfer. US based cheques may also be sent to AFJ so long as the purpose of the donation is duly noted on the document. Locally, people or companies who want to do local wire transfers are being asked to do so through the CVSS account at National Commercial Bank chequing account number 061-052-429. Alternately companies and/or individuals can use the CVSS USD account at JMMB – 006000181484.

 

Talking of private sector, the Issa Trust Foundation(the charity arm of Couples Resorts) has come up with J$32 million worth of medical equipment and supplies, including ventilators, beds, protective gear and lots more. Thank you! 

Today, also, the Kiwanis Club of Downtown Kingston donated 500 masks to the Southern Regional Health Authority (SERHA), part of an initial commitment of 6,000 to the public health sector. 

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The Kiwanis Club of Downtown Kingston donates the first batch of masks for the Southern Regional Health Authority. More to follow! (Photo: Wayne Chen/Twitter)

 

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Volunteers are needed for the National Emergency Operations Centre.

 

 

 


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