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Jamaica imposes travel restrictions; Nat’l Statement on COVID-19 by Jamaica Health & Wellness Minister

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#Jamaica – March 3, 2020 — FULL STATEMENT from MARCH 2, 2020: The new Coronavirus (COVID-19) has spread to more than 60 countries, fueling widespread anxiety, as many consider the implications for public health.   

Here in Jamaica we understand that anxiety and wish to reassure the public that we are, even now, enhancing our readiness for the very real possibility of the virus coming to our shores.

Up to March 1, there were more than 87,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 reported globally and close to 3,000 deaths. Among those countries impacted are three from within the Caribbean, namely the Dominican Republic, St. Barts and St. Maarten.

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So far, Jamaica has had no cases. However, we can accept, given the rate of spread, which has seen more than 30 new countries impacted in the last week alone, that Jamaica is not immune to COVID-19.

We can also accept that it is not beyond our capacity to respond and to do so effectively, in the public health interest. Such has been our history in the face of other global disease outbreaks, including H1N1, SARS and Ebola.

Against this background, Jamaica’s assault on COVID-19, for which robust and ongoing public support is critical, is happening on two fronts:

  1. Actions to minimize the risk of exposure among the local population; and
  2.  Actions to enhance the capacity of the public health system to manage patients in the event that we have cases.

On MINIMISING EXPOSURE, we have, through collaboration with a wide cross-section of stakeholders from the public and private sectors,and through the adoption of a whole-of-government approach:

  • Imposed travel restrictions to include five countries, among them China, Italy, South Korea, Singapore, and Iran.
  • Discouraged non-essential travel.
  • Are patrolling irregular border crossings.
  • Sensitized key personnel at all air and sea ports.
  • Designated FOUR (4) quarantine facilities.
  • And identified and are retrofitting isolation facilities in each of the island’s public hospitals.

On our HEALTH SYSTEM’S READINESS, we have:

  • Developed the local capacity to test for the virus, thanks to training provided by the Pan-American Health Organization.
  • Assessed the readiness of our health facilities to meet the anticipated increase in demand on services.
  • Are addressing existing gaps, including with respect of additional supplies and equipment, though, at the present time, we have enough personal protective equipment in the island for our health facilities. We also have adequate stores of respiratory medicine for the next three months.
  • In addition, we have trained and continue to train health care providers.

These efforts are supported by a communications campaign to keep each member of the population updated on the virus and its impacts. Oversight is provided by the multi-sectoral National Disaster Risk Management Council – led by Prime Minister Andrew Holness – to which the Ministry of Health and Wellness will present a detailed response plan for approval.

Minister of Health, Dr Christopher Tufton inspects NMIA – file photo by JIS

Still, the success of our efforts depends on the extent to which stakeholders from the private and public sectors and indeed every individual who calls Jamaica home understand that they each have a role to play to preserve public health. This week we will also appoint a COVID-19 coordinating taskforce.

We must, therefore, work together to maintain a high level of vigilance in our surveillance and response measures. It is also now more important than ever that each of us:

  • Maintain a distance of at least 2 metres from persons who are coughing or sneezing.
  • Frequently perform hand hygiene by washing hands thoroughly with soap and water or using a hand sanitizer if hands are not visibly soiled.
  • Cover our mouths and noses with a tissue when coughing or sneezing, and then discarding it.
  • And resist the habit to touch our faces.
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Yes, COVID-19 is a disease that can cause death, but in the majority of cases, those affected by the virus survive. If we work together as a community, each of us doing our part, from prevention to care management, we can and will overcome this public health threat.

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Caribbean News

CHTA President Praises Jamaica’s Hurricane Preparedness, Assures Ongoing Support

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KINGSTON, Jamaica– President of the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA), Nicola Madden-Greig, has praised the strength of local and regional public-private sector partnerships, while congratulating tourism stakeholders across Jamaica for their strong level of preparedness in weathering the dangerous Category 4 Hurricane Beryl, which impacted the island this week.

“Jamaica was spared the worst of the hurricane and we have now returned to regular business operations,” said Madden-Greig, who rode out the storm at her office in Kingston. She reported that Sangster International Airport in Montego Bay and Ian Fleming International Airport in Ocho Rios opened today, while Norman Manley International Airport in Kingston will open on Friday, July 5, after minor repairs are completed.

“We have no reports of any guests being injured during the passage of the storm, and the majority of the hotels and the tourism industry in general have emerged unscathed,” Madden-Greig added.

However, she expressed concerns for the south coast of the island, where many local communities were impacted, along with several independent hotels and villa operations.

“We will be including these operators in our disaster relief efforts, particularly in the Treasure Beach, St. Elizabeth area,” she noted, explaining however that she had little doubt that this resilient community will rebound in the shortest possible time.

The trade association leader was encouraged with the reports emanating from the Cayman Islands, which confirmed no major impact on the sector there. “We are thankful to God for sparing us for the most part, and we are now resolved to getting our industry back on track, while serving communities (especially those in the Grenadines) who are in dire need at this time,” said Madden-Greig.

Individuals, businesses and organizations that want to contribute to regional hurricane relief efforts may make a monetary donation at www.chtaef.com.

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CARICOM raising profile and priority of its Migration Policy; curbing challenges ‘a tall order’

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Garfield Ekon

Staff Writer

 

The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) is committed to work with Member States and other stakeholders to implement a “forward-thinking regional migration policy,” according to its Assistant Secretary General, Alison Drayton.

Addressing the opening of a recent three-day workshop titled “Towards a Regional Approach to a Migration Policy in the Caribbean,” in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, she said it is evident that the Region has been facing, and will continue to face, various challenges that affect the lives and livelihoods of Caribbean citizens.

“Namely, due to Climate Change, which has amplified displacements and the need for persons to migrate from areas that threaten their livelihoods or limit their opportunities to prosper and provide for their families,” the ASG told the forum, adding that the Climate Change and natural disasters remain “key drivers of displacements in the Region.”

“With the frequency and magnitude of events likely to increase in the future, this has contributed to many regional States facing demographic decline, which has impacted their workforce, our younger population seeking job opportunities outside the Region, and many key sectors being negatively impacted,” she stated.

The CARICOM official underscored that tackling the challenges would be “a tall order,” hence the Regional body’s commitment that would help address various aspects of Regional migration and human mobility as determined by Member State priorities.

Lauding the Government of Trinidad and Tobago for hosting the workshop, and the and valuable technical contributions made by the United Nations (UN) Migration Group and financial contributions from the United States Department of State, the European Union, and the Inter-American Development Bank, she said  the their efforts have been significant.

The contribution made by International Organization for Migration (IOM), has advanced the policy, with provision of consultancies to coordinate the Community’s work through the Regional Approach to Migration Policy (RAMP) Steering Committee and development of the framework, she highlighted.

For Trinidad and Tobago’s National Security Minister, the Hon. Fitzgerald Hinds, his country is also committed to contributing to the development of a regional migration policy framework that reflects the priorities of the people of the Caribbean Community.

“As we embark on this journey together, let us harness the expertise, the insights and the experiences that we already have among us as we gather here today to shape the policy framework that is in front of us,” the Minister said, adding that the current migration realities “should prepare us for future challenges.”

The technical workshop brought together National Focal Points from the CARICOM Member States, and representatives of relevant regional and international organisations, building on IOM’s Migration Governance Indicator (MGI) assessments, and other consultations held with national Governments of CARICOM Member States in 2023.

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Caribbean News

Government Earmarks $300M for Post-Hurricane Dengue Mitigation

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#Kingston, Jamaica, July 19, 2024 – The Government has earmarked $300 million to ramp up dengue mitigation activities, inclusive of fogging, treatment of mosquito breeding sites, removal of bulky waste and drain cleaning, in the aftermath of Hurricane Beryl.

Addressing the House of Representatives on Tuesday (July 16), Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, said the funds have been allocated to the Ministry of Health and Wellness, which will spearhead vector-control activities over the next six weeks.

He further informed that the National Solid Waste Management Authority (NSWMA) and National Works Agency (NWA), “are technically involved in this dengue mitigation [exercise] by trying to clear the environmental conditions that would create the growth in the vector”.

Mr. Holness highlighted the potential for a significant increase in the dengue vector, the Aedes aegpyti mosquito, which breeds primarily in containers, consequent on  the hurricane’s passage.

“We know that many communities are being plagued by the increase in the mosquito population… and other vectors [such as] roaches, rats and flies. Therefore, the cleanup and removal and clearing of waterlogged areas is of critical importance,” he emphasised.

The Prime Minister noted that the hot summer conditions, along with rainfall, will further contribute to heightening the possibility of an increase in these vectors and the transmission of diseases.

As such, he appealed to Jamaicans to properly store water in covered containers and destroy mosquito breeding sites around their homes.

“I urge all homeowners who are storing water and… leaving the containers open, that an easy way to control the growth of the mosquito population in your households is to cover the containers,” Mr. Holness said.

He pointed out that the NSWMA will shortly announce a schedule for the removal of bulky waste from homes.

Prime Minister Holness further indicated that the NWA will be actively cleaning various gullies.

Dengue symptoms include fever, headache, and joint and muscle pains. These are often resolved through rest and adequate hydration along with the use of paracetamol to treat the accompanying fever.

 

Contact: Chris Patterson

Release: JIS

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