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Director General of the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ), Dr. Wayne Henry, says the nation requires the collective utilisation of resources at its disposal to overcome the challenges associated with the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Speaking at the PIOJ’s digital quarterly media briefing on May 27, Dr. Henry said that Jamaica has entered a period of “significant challenges”, consequent on COVID-19, “the likes of which has never been experienced in several decades”.

“The global pandemic stemming from the spread of COVID-19 has been significantly impacting lives and livelihoods. The novelty of the virus and its presumed high level of transmission has led to not only a global health crisis but also an impending global economic crisis, with multiplier effects already being experienced in all aspects of society,” he pointed out.

The Director General said Jamaica, like the rest of the global community, has been challenged to develop public policy and other responses to an unprecedented crisis.

He cited general consensus within the global community on a generic public health approach targeting reduced spread of the virus, which should aid in “flattening the curve”.

“This has included varying approaches to testing and contact tracing; appropriate legislative restrictions on the movement of people within and among countries; and deliberate controls on socio-economic activities, particularly those deemed non-essential for basic day-to-day functioning and/or those which require close physical contact, and interactions within large gatherings,” he outlined.

Dr. Henry pointed out that since Jamaica’s first confirmed case on March 10, the Government has implemented various measures and safeguards, inclusive of testing, contact tracing, curfews, limits on social gathering and work-from-home orders, to curb the spread of COVID-19.

He also cited the Administration’s commencement of initiatives targeting economic and social interventions to cushion COVID-19’s impact, in tandem with local and international multi-stakeholder partners

These, the Director General said, include the COVID Allocation of Resources for Employees (CARE) Programme, the COVID-19 Economic Recovery Task Force, the National COVID-19 Research Agenda, the post disaster impact assessment using the Damage and Loss Assessment (DALA) and/or the Post Disaster Needs Assessment methodologies.

He indicated that a comprehensive quantification and description of total damage and losses will be undertaken to determine the impact of COVID-19 on the economy and society, to inform the Government’s policy or programme interventions during the recovery phase.

“So far, the core team has been activated and data collection instruments have been disseminated and reviewed. The monitoring and collection of baseline data is already in progress,” Dr. Henry informed.

The Director General said in light of the fact that the virus’ duration is unknown, the implementation of measures to facilitate the effective “though restrained” operation of the economy and society, is an even greater imperative.

“I, therefore, encourage us all to maintain our collaborative effort and to remain disciplined and responsible as we sustain our efforts to make Jamaica the place of choice to live, work, raise families and do business,” Dr. Henry added.

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