Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, says that the COVID-19 Subcommittee of Cabinet will meet over the weekend to review the coronavirus (COVID-19) situation in the country.
The meeting comes as the island sees an uptick in cases of the virus.
Mr. Holness, who was addressing the House of Representatives on Wednesday (July 21), said that the meeting will, among other things, determine whether there may be need to tighten some of the current COVID-19 measures prior to their expiration on August 10.
He said that the nation will be notified via press conference, “possibly Tuesday, if we do intend to make any new changes to the Orders”.
“When the Cabinet Subcommittee on COVID meets on the weekend… it is very likely that there will be measures announced by Tuesday of next week; very likely. So, I was just using the opportunity to put Jamaica on notice and, seeing that Parliament will be on recess, to inform Parliament of the actions we are taking,” he noted.
The Prime Minister said that on Tuesday (July 20), Jamaica recorded 122 new cases of COVID-19, “our single highest day in terms of numbers in over eight weeks since May 2021”.
He noted that there has also been an increase in the positivity rate. “Our average positivity rate for the last seven days was 8.8 per cent. For week 29, the positivity rate, so far, is 9.9 per cent… . This puts us in the high-transmission range. You will recall that our target is to get our positivity rate down to five per cent or below; we are almost doubling that now,” he pointed out.
The Prime Minister noted, further, that the reproductive rate now stands at 1.1, from a rate of below one for 16 weeks.
Mr. Holness told the House that the parishes of Hanover and Westmoreland are experiencing a greater level of spread on a per-capita basis, which is two to three times that of Kingston and St. Andrew.
“Over the past seven days, Hanover and Westmoreland recorded 107 new cases while Kingston and St. Andrew, and St. Catherine combined recorded 197 new cases,” he said.
The Prime Minister urged Jamaicans to observe the protocols that have been established to keep them safe. “This is not the time to become complacent,” he noted.
“We are starting to see an uptick in our numbers and may be in the early stages of our third wave. The only way for us to prevent this is for Jamaicans to take personal responsibility, to exercise extreme caution and diligence in observing the protocols, wearing masks properly… covering nose and mouth, maintaining proper hand hygiene and maintain physical distance,” he said.
Mr. Holness also urged eligible persons to take the vaccines, which he noted, have proven to be highly effective in preventing hospitalisations and death.
“I want to urge everyone who has already received one dose to take the second dose of the vaccine. We are now 16 months into the pandemic and we know how the virus spreads, we know what works and what does not work. The established protocols have been proven to work,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Prime Minister is defending the Government’s decision to reopen various sectors of the economy.
“I want to reject the notion that opening up the economy and maintaining a low infection rate are not possible together. Both things can work together,” he said.
He noted that it is possible for Jamaicans to go about their normal daily activities, but to do so in a safe way.
“What is driving the spread is indiscipline, complacency and lack of diligence in observing the protocols. We have to decide whether to go about our activities in a disciplined and cautious way, keep our economy open and earn our livelihoods or whether we walk the path of indiscipline, which will inevitably lead to a spike, forcing us to tighten measures. The choice is ours, individually and collectively,” he said.