KINGSTON, Jamaica – The Jamaica government has announced seven no movement days in the country in a bid to curb the latest surge in coronavirus (COVID-19) cases here.
According to the government, the days in question are Sunday, August 22; Monday, August 23; Tuesday, August 24; Sunday, August 29; Monday, August 30; Tuesday, August 31; and Sunday, September 5.
“I am [therefore] appealing for everyone to make these no movement days a success. If you don’t have to move during this period… stay home,” Prime Minister Andrew Holness said.
The government said that the tightening of the curfews, which form part of the government’s infection prevention and control measures, are also aimed at reducing hospitalizations and deaths.
The new measures come as the virus’ more transmissible Delta variant was confirmed to be present in Jamaica.
Prime Minister Holness told a virtual news conference that the existing curfew hours will be adjusted on Friday and Saturday to allow persons adequate time to procure essential items ahead of the first lockdown period.
The curfew will begin at 9:00 pm (local time) on Friday and end at five o’clock on Saturday morning.
It will commence at 8:00 p.m. on Saturday and continue throughout Sunday, August 22, Monday, August 23, and Tuesday, August 24, ending at 5:00 a.m. on Wednesday, August 25.
Holness said however, that the curfews would revert to the hours of 7:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m. on the weekdays and 6:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m. on the Saturdays following the no movement days.
He said as part of efforts to also allow persons to prepare for the three-day lockdowns, workplaces and businesses will be asked to close at midday on Friday, August 20 and Friday, August 27.
Holness said that workplaces or businesses not required to close at midday on those days are the courts; establishments providing security, finance, transportation, and health services; the National Water Commission; Jamaica Public Service Company; gas stations; public works and sanitation entities; fire stations; supermarkets, wholesales, and stores; and restaurants and corner shops, among others.
He said the vaccination program will continue as certain sites will remain open during curfew hours and on no movement days and that persons with vaccination appointments will be allowed to fulfil these.
Holness said the police have been given clear instructions to enforce the restriction on movement during the designated periods.
He emphasized that instituting restrictions to prevent or slow further transmission of the virus “works if everyone cooperates”.
Meanwhile, Health and Wellness Minister, Dr. Christopher Tufton, said that vaccines have proven effective against the Delta variant of the coronavirus.
“Vaccines continue to be effective based on what the research is showing against that particular strain and the others. The theme here about getting your vaccination is very relevant and now more so that we have this particular strain. I think we should focus on the fact that it represents our best response to dealing with the threat that is on hand,” he said
On Wednesday, the Ministry confirmed the presence of the highly contagious Delta variant of COVID-19 in Jamaica.
Twenty-two samples tested positive from 40 results received from the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA). A total of 60 samples were sent to the Agency.
Tufton told the news conference that the results suggest that the strain may in fact be present “in abundance”.
Noting that although it may not be the dominant strain at this time, he said the presence of the Delta variant poses an additional public health threat.
“Based on the science, it spreads a lot quicker and appears to affect all age cohorts, particularly younger people, and could do so in severe ways. And so we have to be cautious and recognize the threat that it represents,” he emphasized.
On Thursday, health authorities reported that the island had recorded 555 new COVID-19 cases bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 59,932. Jamaica also recorded three additional deaths bringing the death toll to 1,342.
According to the Ministry of Health and Wellness, the deaths, included a 60-year-old woman from Kingston and St Andrew, a 94-year-old man from St Thomas and a 53-year-old woman from Clarendon.
The country also recorded 29 recoveries bringing the total number of recoveries to 47,599.