Feature
Minister of Finance and the Public Service,. Dr. the Hon. Nigel Clarke (left), listens to a point from Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) Caribbean Country Department Manager, Therese Turner Jones, at the Ministry’s offices in Kingston, on March 13. At right is Development Bank of Jamaica (DBJ) Managing Director, Milverton Reynolds.
Photo: Donald De la Haye

Story Highlights

  • The Government has received an undertaking from the Inter-American Development (IDB) to provide resources to counter the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak in Jamaica, should this intervention be required.
  • “The IDB is here as your partner to help in these difficult times,” said IDB Caribbean Country Department Manager, Therese Turner Jones.
  • The Government has earmarked some $7 billion in the 2020/21 Budget to fund the requisite interventions to combat the COVID-19 onset.

The Government has received an undertaking from the Inter-American Development (IDB) to provide resources to counter the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak in Jamaica, should this intervention be required.

“The IDB is here as your partner to help in these difficult times,” said IDB Caribbean Country Department Manager, Therese Turner Jones.

The Government has earmarked some $7 billion in the 2020/21 Budget to fund the requisite interventions to combat the COVID-19 onset.

“We have resources that can be very quickly deployed, if you need them, and we are here to do that for you and every Jamaican citizen,” she added, during a function at the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service in Kingston, last Friday (March 13).

Mrs. Turner Jones said the global impact of the virus, to date, suggests that “what we are dealing with is something quite extraordinary”.

“These are very unusual times, and call for bold measures to protect… every single person in Jamaica.

“We have to be ready, we have to be prepared, and we have to think about how we are going to adjust,” she added.

Mrs. Turner Jones said it is against this background that the IDB has decided that, effective Monday (March 16), all staff members “will be working virtually”.

“All of our teams, not just in Jamaica but across the region and also at headquarters [in Washington DC], we will be working from home… because of the virus,” she said.

Mrs. Turner Jones emphasised the need for persons to remain calm, under the circumstances.

She noted that while the virus is going to cause a lot of panic, especially in the global financial markets, it is important for the authorities to be very clear about the messages being sent on how the situation is being addressed.

In the meantime, Jamaica Employers’ Federation (JEF) President, David Wan, said steadfast adherence by all Jamaicans to preventative measures is critical in restricting the spread of the virus across the country, which had 12 confirmed cases up to Monday (March 16).

“The reality is… based on what’s going on in Italy, Iran and China, it doesn’t seem like it’s a one-month phenomenon,” Mr. Wan said.

Jamaica Employers’ Federation (JEF) President, David Wan.

 

“The duration of the virus depends on how quickly we can achieve behavioural changes on the part of everyone in Jamaica in terms of hand washing and sanitising, taking steps to self-quarantine, getting the medical checks and making contact with the Ministry of Health, if this becomes necessary,” he told JIS News.

Mr. Wan emphasised that if the proposed measures “are merely a two-week phenomenon and people fall back to where they were… that will not help us”.

Safeguards being outlined by the Government include regular and thorough handwashing with soap and water; sneezing and coughing in elbows or a tissue, which should be disposed of immediately; maintaining a safe distance of one metre from all persons; avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth; using a sanitising hand rub with alcohol content of 62 per cent or greater in-between washing and after touching money, parking tickets, elevator buttons, and door handles; and maintaining a balanced diet inclusive of fruits and vegetables and Vitamin C to boost the immune system.

The Government has also suspended all non-essential overseas travel by Cabinet Ministers and other public officials; the suspension of schools; and a restriction on public events and revocation of permits for such activities, where applicable.

In addition, effective Wednesday (March 18), all non-essential employees across Government and the private sector will be required to work from home for seven days; hospital visits will be restricted to one person per day, per patient and outpatient clinics scaled down; bars, nightclubs and places of entertainment will be closed; supermarkets, pharmacies, gas stations, take-out restaurants, corner shops and the food market, will be allowed to remain open, but persons using these facilities should maintain social distancing and practise sanitising.

In addition, funerals and weddings should be limited to a group of no more than 20 persons; and public passenger vehicles will now be required to carry only seated passengers, while the taxis will be required to transport one less passenger than what they are licensed to carry.

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