Prime Minister Andrew Holness has revealed that one of the 30 people in Jamaica tested positive for the coronavirus may have been infected by recent travellers who knew they were carrying the virus but neglected to self isolate.
Speaking at a digital press briefing last evening, Holness also said a second person who came in contact with the travellers was now showing symptoms of COVID-19.
“That, in my opinion, is the heights of irresponsibility and almost deliberateness in action,” said the prime minister, adding that despite knowing they had tested positive for the coronavirus, the Jamaicans on their return here, interacted and socialised with others.
The prime minister did not reveal any detail, saying people’s privacy had to be respected, but disclosed that the travellers recently returned from New York, the epicentre of the virus in the United States with more than 44,000 cases including 519 deaths up to late Friday.
According to Holness, behaviours like these will contribute to a spike in local incidents of the coronavirus and a demand on the health services and so the Government will be enforcing the law that mandates that travellers must go into self quarantine for 14 days on arrival here.
He acknowledged that Jamaica is in the very early stages of the COVID outbreak, saying inevitably, there will eventually be a spike but maintained that the government is trying to ensure that this does not exceed the capacity of the health system.
The Health Ministry has projected that between 1 million and 1.5 million people will be affected.
However, Health Minister Dr Christopher Tufton said, the vast majority of those patients would only have mild symptoms.
“About 400,000 would end up in the public health system,” said Tufton.
Based on the projection, about 2,000 who would be hospitalised and about 350 to 400 would develop severe respiratory issues requiring high-dependency intensive care treatment, the minister said.
Prime Minister Andrew Holness: You have Jamaicans who travelled to New York, for example, and were tested positive and have returned here and are interacting with people, one of whom has now contracted #COVID19. At this point, the Government is not contemplating a total shutdown of Jamaica because of #COVID19. People need to be concerned, but they should also be prepared.