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Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator the Hon. Kamina Johnson Smith (right), welcomes Michael Forrester (second left); his mother (centre) and his son (left), immediately after they arrived at the Norman Manley International Airport in Kingston, on Wednesday (May 6). Also sharing the moment is an airport employee.
Photo: Adrian Walker

Story Highlights

  • Without hesitation, Mr. Forrester applied for repatriation through the Government’s new jamcovid website, https://jamcovid19.moh.gov.jm/, and his application was granted to return on the flight with the stranded ship workers.
  • “It was my task to come back to England and literally rescue her to bring her back here, because if that many people are dying, she would rather have the choice of where she wants to be, and she would prefer to be in her home country, which is Jamaica,” he said.

When the coronavirus (COVID-19) began its dreadful spread across the United Kingdom, Michael Forrester and his elderly mother wanted to return to their home country, Jamaica.

However, with Jamaican borders closed on March 24 in an effort to control the local spread of COVID-19, they thought there was no hope of returning home.

With plea calls coming from stranded ship workers in the United Kingdom, and the Government stating on April 20 that efforts are being made to repatriate these persons, both Mr. Forrester and his mother became hopeful.

Without hesitation, Mr. Forrester applied for repatriation through the Government’s new jamcovid website, https://jamcovid19.moh.gov.jm/, and his application was granted to return on the flight with the stranded ship workers.

A TUI chartered Boeing 787 aircraft was booked for 120 of these Jamaicans, and landed at 5:39 p.m. on Wednesday (May 6) at the Norman Manley International Airport in Kingston.

Mr. Forrester and his mother were elated to be on the flight, along with Mr. Forrester’s son.

“I’m elated. I’m actually a citizen of both the United Kingdom and Jamaica,” Mr. Forrester told JIS News, immediately after exiting the aircraft.

Mr. Forester pointed out that he had to fulfil his elderly mother’s desire of returning to Jamaica.

“It was my task to come back to England and literally rescue her to bring her back here, because if that many people are dying, she would rather have the choice of where she wants to be, and she would prefer to be in her home country, which is Jamaica,” he said.

Mr. Forrester applauded the Jamaican government’s efforts in fighting COVID-19, and noted that he would rather be in Jamaica at this time.

“What we have is truly a global pandemic. I commend Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, for his action.

The number of persons who have died in Jamaica is in single digit, whereas in the United Kingdom, it is over 30,000.

We’re now waking up to the fact that we are a true country that is ‘little, but we tallawah’,” he told JIS News.

Mr. Forrester hopes that one positive from COVID-19 in Jamaica will more togetherness.

“I think people are now realising that we need to come together as a nation and build up our own country, because when we are in other countries, we tend not to get the recognition that we deserve. We should all come back here, with not only resources, but also the brain – the key to success – in other areas,” he said.

Mr. Forrester is a businessman and financial broker with major projects now happening in Jamaica, which is another reason why he pushed to be on the flight.

He, along with all the other passengers, will be placed in quarantine for 14 days at the cost of the Government.

Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator the Hon. Kamina Johnson Smith, was on hand at the airport to personally greet Mr. Forrester, his family and all the other repatriated persons.

“They’re happy to be home. They’re just happy. There are a couple families on board; three young children, one newborn baby, some elderly persons, as well, along with the crew workers, and students who were in challenging circumstances and were assisted to come back home,” Mrs. Johnson Smith told JIS News.

Jamaica now has 502 confirmed cases of persons with COVID-19. Ninety persons have recovered and nine persons have, unfortunately, died.

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