The country’s Chief Medical Officer (CMO), Dr. Jacquiline Bisasor-Mckenzie, is warning Jamaicans to avoid travelling in overcrowded taxis as part of measures to prevent transmission of the coronavirus (COVID-19).
She said that persons should wear masks during the entire driving period and ensure that the windows of the vehicle are open to allow for ventilation and that the air-conditioning system is turned off.
The warning comes in light of recent analysis that indicates that individuals travelling in a taxi with an infected COVID-19 patient are three and a half times more likely to contract the virus than persons living with someone who has the virus.
“One of the recent deaths that we had was, in fact, a taxi operator, and these persons have to understand the risk that they face, as well as the persons who are travelling in these vehicles. They have to make sure that they adhere to the precautions that have been put out there that they must not go into a crowded vehicle,” Dr. Bisasor-Mckenzie said.
“I travel on the road and I’m still seeing taxis travelling with their windows up and I’m still able to look into some of these vehicles and recognise that persons are not travelling with a mask on,” she further lamented.
Dr. Bisasor-Mckenzie was addressing the weekly COVID Conversations press briefing from the Ministry of Health and Wellness’ New Kingston offices on Thursday (August 13).
National Epidemiologist, Dr. Karen Webster Kerr, in providing further information said the study also showed that non-household family members and co-workers have a similar risk of being infected as household members.
Healthcare workers are less likely than household members to contract the virus.
Dr. Bisasor-Mckenzie said it is important for the public to take note of the study, as persons, who have the virus often show no symptoms.
She also implored shopkeepers and store owners to be vigilant, noting that one of the four recent deaths associated with the virus was a shopkeeper.
“Now, this is also a situation where a lot of persons can come into your business space. You don’t know what they are, you don’t know if they have been exposed, you don’t know if they have symptoms but you deal with these persons, and we’re not saying to stop the business. What we’re saying is that the precautions that are put out must be adhered to,” Dr. Bisasor- McKenzie said.
The protocols, which have been implemented to protect the business operators as well as the customers, include setting up hand-sanitisation stations, maintaining the physical distancing and gathering requirements and ensuring that persons entering the establishment wear a mask at all times.
“They must come in and you serve them and they must get out quickly,” the CMO said.