Jamaica COVID-19 Update: Another Community Quarantine, Electioneering, and Irresponsible Behavior


Happy Independence Day, Jamaica!

Our health officials have been trying to press home the need for social distancing and the wearing of masks, as our local transmission numbers for COVID-19 and the numbers of those hospitalized who are suspected of the virus continue to climb. As of today (August 6) we had eight new cases in 24 hours (none of them imported) and 40 people hospitalized, with seven moderately ill. 23,449 are in home quarantine. We have a total of 928 cases and 12 deaths. The number of active cases has increased to 121.

Moreover, it is holiday time and there is cause for grave concern over the number of unauthorized entertainment events taking place that are not abiding by COVID-19 protocols. Minister of Local Government Desmond McKenzie has repeatedly “warned” the promoters of these parties, and yesterday held an “emergency meeting” with them. I am not sure why, with our numbers rising, NO additional restrictions of any kind were imposed for the holiday period. Politicians were busy campaigning this week and “We are not supposed to have a crowd,” said Jamaica Labour Party Chairman Horace Chang in Clarendon yesterday.

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JLP supporters wearing masks incorrectly and ignoring social distancing rules during a political function in Chapleton, Clarendon, on Tuesday. This is the same parish where a community is now in quarantine. Let’s face it – this ain’t going to work! (Photo: Naphtali Junior/Jamaica Observer)

Not supposed to have a crowd? At an election event?

And speaking of Clarendon… See below from the Ministry of Health and Wellness this morning.

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COMMUNITY QUARANTINE FOR SANDY BAY, CLARENDON

KINGSTON, Jamaica. Thursday, August 6, 2020: The Ministry of Health & Wellness in collaboration with the Clarendon Health Department and the Southern Regional Health Authority (SRHA) has reviewed today the recent COVID-19 cases coming out of Clarendon.  Two positive cases of COVID-19 are admitted at the May Pen Hospital. Case investigations and contact tracing have been carried out that have yielded six positive contacts of these two hospitalized cases including an imported case.

A community surveillance was carried out in Sandy Bay and neighboring communities where there is significant cause for concern because of lack of adherence to infection prevention and control measures. Crowd gathering was noted without use of face masks in one church where several persons with respiratory illnesses were noted. Members of the church have been found to be positive.

In addition, another 13 persons have been found with symptoms and have been sampled. There are also two confirmed cases and a suspected case from Rosewell, a community that neighbors the Sandy Bay area and from which several persons attend the same church.

Due to the number of positive cases and the number of persons with symptoms in the community, the health authorities have concluded that there is considerable risk of further transmission and infection in this community.

In consultation with the local health authority, Southern Regional Health Authority (SRHA), the decision has been taken to quarantine the area of Sandy Bay in Clarendon (as specifically identified below) for 14 days which will take effect from Thursday, August 6, 2020 at 6:00 a.m. to Thursday, August 20, 2020 at 6:00 a.m.

Exposed persons in the community may develop infection and cause spread to other members in the communities resulting in a rapid increase in the numbers of positive cases.  This is due to the high movement of persons within the affected households within the community; the high population density of the area identified and the high vulnerability of persons within the community to severe illness due to age, comorbidities and other socio-economic factors.

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The quarantine of Sandy Bay is to restrict movement of members of the community to slow or prevent new exposures and hence new infections by:

  • Further testing of members of the community;
  • Close monitoring of members of the community for development of symptoms;
  • Early containment of newly detected cases;
  • Prevention of new exposures and transmission of disease; and
  • Education of members of the communities of Infection Prevention and Control measures.

Boundaries for the Quarantine are outlined below:

SANDY BAY QUARANTINE AREA – The area of interest spans approximately 0.6 Sq. Km and is bounded by a 3.4 km perimeter.
EAST The boundary will run from its start point, which is the intersection of Montgomery Boulevard and Sabal Drive and will continue in a southerly direction to its intersection with the Rose Hall to Sandy Bay Road and then south-westerly to the Green Park to Freetown Road and then south-easterly along this road to the intersection with Pacific Avenue.

 

SOUTH The boundary will continue easterly from the intersection of the Green Park to Freetown Road and Pacific Avenue to the river.

 

WEST The boundary will then continue in a northerly direction from the river in the vicinity of Pacific Avenue to its intersection with the Green Park to Freetown Road.

 

NORTH The boundary will continue in a north-easterly direction from the intersection of the river and the Green Park to Freetown Road onto an unnamed road and then to its intersection with the Sandy Bay to Roswell Road, then moving southerly along the Sandy Bay to Roswell Road to its intersection with Sabal Drive and then easterly along this road to the intersection with Montgomery Boulevard.

 

There is a parallel, on a much larger scale, in Los Angeles, where the city Mayor says he will cut off utilities to properties where large parties are being held in contravention of COVID-19 protocols. LA County has had 4,760 deaths and 196,000 people contracting the virus.

On MSNBC this morning, local health officials were saying: “It’s a question of personal responsibility…” That mantra sounds very familiar – but is it hitting home?

What is the matter with people? Moreover, there appears to be a problem with the police enforcing LA’s ban on large parties. I hope this is not a concern in Jamaica.

Let’s keep fingers crossed. There is reason to be nervous. “Tun a Yuh Yaad!” (This is a great video put together by Black River Hospital and a singing/deejaying nurse).

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Big parties are taking place in Los Angeles as COVID-19 numbers rise. No social distancing here! (Photo: NBC)

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