Jamaica confirms first case of coronavirus

KINGSTON — Jamaica has confirmed its first imported case of COVID-19. The patient is a Jamaican woman who had travelled from the UK.

The CTO reports that the country’s Minister of Health and Wellness, Dr. Christopher Tufton, confirmed that the patient arrived on the island on March 4, 2020 and presented to the public health system on March 9, 2020. She has since been in isolation.

Though the patient’s infection was said to be travel-related, Tufton said his government is taking steps to prevent the risk of community spread. These measures include the dispatch of a health team to the home of the patient for assessment and initiation of public health measures, the identification and contact tracing for all possible exposed persons, and calling a meeting of Ministry officials with members of staff at the hospital and the necessary interventions put in place.

“The Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade and I met this morning (March 10) with the ambassadors of those countries, together with the ambassador for the EU and have informed them that based on the risk assessment of community spread of the virus in those countries that travel restrictions would be imposed,” said Tufton.

He further advised that public gatherings on the island are now being discouraged, as is non-essential travel. The Jamaican government continues to patrol irregular border crossings, and the sensitization of key personnel at all air and seaports is ongoing.

Moreover, Jamaica has designated four quarantine facilities, with more to be identified, and its finalizing the retrofitting of isolation facilities in each of the island’s public hospitals.

On the readiness of the island’s healthy system, Tufton said the Ministry has developed the local capacity to test for the virus, thanks to training provided by the Pan-American Health Organization. It has also assessed the readiness of Jamaica’s health facilities to meet the anticipated increase in demand on services and continues to address existing gaps, including with respect of additional supplies and equipment.

He confirmed that right now supplies are adequate and the country has adequate stores of respiratory medicine for the next three months.

The Ministry is urging the public to adhere to infection prevention and control measures, including maintaining a distance of at least one metre from people who are coughing or sneezing, frequently washing hands thoroughly with soap and water, or using a hand sanitizer if hands are not visibly soiled, covering mouths and noses with a tissue when coughing or sneezing and then discarding it, and resisting the habit to touch faces.

“I want to use this opportunity to appeal to the public to remain calm and to implement all the advisories relating to personal hygiene, social distancing, and overall infection prevention control. The Government of Jamaica will continue to keep the public informed as we manage this public health challenge,” said Tufton.

For more information call 1-888-ONE-LOVE (663-5683).

Get travel news right to your inbox!