Jamaican Independence: Another Quarantined Community, and Churches – “If You Cyaa Hear, You Will Feel”

Well, it has been quite a strange Independence holiday, with an online celebration that I completely missed unfortunately – and just now, fireworks at 10:00 p.m. as usual – but without the crowds. The fireworks were sort of in a vacuum.

And we had a press briefing this evening at the Office of the Prime Minister, who looked rather more tense than usual. And as usual there was barely enough time for the media to ask questions. The Prime Minister said he had been meeting with members of the Cabinet COVID sub-committee for several hours today thrashing things out.

However, although they appear to have decided on new restrictions to be imposed, they have clearly not had time to “consult” (and everyone is holidaying) – so, between tomorrow and Tuesday (Parliament day) we should have the full picture via a series of announcements from Cabinet ministers.

Prime Minister Andrew Holness.

The Prime Minister declared, meanwhile, that he is tired of trying to persuade people. As I noted in previous posts, Jamaicans are behaving irresponsibly, not wearing masks, and crowding beaches and rivers whenever they can.

Of course, at least a couple of days this week were wasted, election campaigning… Is the Prime Minister really embarking on a four-day ribbon-cutting, speechifying and campaigning tour of western Jamaica tomorrow? The timing seems definitely off.

Why are they “contemplating” (the Prime Minister’s word) new restrictions? Here is the picture as of Independence Night (August 6):

  • We have 30 new cases in the last 24 hours, aged 6 to 87 years. Four are imported cases, who arrived in Jamaica in early July from the United States. Two of those four have already returned to the U.S.
  • The other 26 cases include 11 each from the parishes of Clarendon and St. Thomas. Five are contacts of confirmed cases; 21 are under investigation – a rather high number.
  • We have 149 active cases currently under observation, including seven who are moderately ill and no critically ill people. We have 42 people hospitalized, including suspected positive cases.
  • We tested 541 new samples in the last 24 hours.

In and around Church Corner/Bamboo River/Summit in St. Thomas is now under quarantine – an area of nearly one square km bounded by a 4.3 km perimeter. It is on the outskirts of the parish capital of Morant Bay. Like Sandy Bay in Clarendon, the area will be under quarantine for 14 days.

The justification for the quarantine, Minister of Health and Wellness Christopher Tufton informed the press briefing, is because 16 cases have tested positive.

And again, there is a church connection, as in Sandy Bay – where a pastor reportedly returned from overseas, infected five members of his family, and started holding services without abiding by any of the COVID protocols. The Prime Minister suggested that his was not the only church. In St. Thomas, a sick person was prayed over at church. What a great idea that was. There have been 28 cases in the parish in four days.

So…some churches have taken over from cruise ships as COVID-19 “petri dishes.” Meanwhile, the Prime Minister says:

If you cyaa hear, you will feel

We await the feelings.

A Happy Independence Day photo from the Ministry of Health and Wellness.


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