Feature
Minister of Health and Wellness, Dr. the Hon. Christopher Tufton (second right), engages with a little girl while she and her mother were being processed at the Norman Manley International Airport in June 9. They were among several Jamaicans, who arrived on a flight from Fort Lauderdale in the United States under the protocol for controlled re-entry.
Photo: Michael Sloley, Nickieta Sterling

Story Highlights

  • Returning Jamaicans are lauding the country for its coronavirus (COVID- 19) protocols for persons entering the island, despite concerns by some visitors that they are too rigorous.  
  • Two Jamaicans who recently returned and have experienced the process say they are quite pleased and impressed with the ‘first-world’ system that has been implemented.
  • Both shared their experiences with the nation recently during the weekly virtual COVID Conversations press briefing.

Returning Jamaicans are lauding the country for its coronavirus (COVID- 19) protocols for persons entering the island, despite concerns by some visitors that they are too rigorous.

Two Jamaicans who recently returned and have experienced the process say they are quite pleased and impressed with the ‘first-world’ system that has been implemented.

Both shared their experiences with the nation recently during the weekly virtual COVID Conversations press briefing.

Lisa Shakespeare, who came in on June 23, from Miami in the United States said, “to be quite frank I was really impressed with the COVID process because it was efficient, smooth and the process was just seamless.”

“From the minute we landed a Ministry of Health official came on board and explained the entire process of what we were to expect once we leave the plane,” she added.

On exiting the plane, Ms. Shakespeare stated that there was an area for her to sanitise her hands and all the personnel including officers, nurses and doctors were dressed in their hazmat suits.

“Everybody was wearing the suits and had on their masks and gloves and there were sections…that had the different social distancing signs so they told us where to stand but we were six feet apart from everyone,” she recalled.

Ms. Shakespeare said she had to fill out a form and a health screening was also done.

It was very thorough, they pretty much asked us all the questions that needed to be asked,” she said.

Shortly after, she went over to the testing area where she was tested and observed that persons were busy ensuring that the seats were quickly sanitized after use by an individual and that for her was comforting.

“Every single step along the way someone explained exactly what was happening, you were not confused, and even the wait time I was impressed by because from the minute I landed to the minute I got out of the airport, took exactly one hour,” she said.

Following her test, Ms. Shakespeare went to immigration and a nearby area where she downloaded the jamcovid app and was informed about its use.

As it relates to the quarantining process, she said she had no issues, as she was happy to be home after being stuck abroad for about three months.

“So, being here and with my mom…it’s a good feeling so I’m in no rush to go anywhere at all. And every day I check in on the app, at least twice a day and I love that the app sends me a reminder, you know, hey, it’s time to check-in,” she said.

The returning Jamaican also informed that she was contacted by persons from the Clarendon health department for her temperature check readings and that three days after landing, she was visited by two officials.

Additionally, she said her family also took the quarantine process seriously and so she stayed mainly by her herself in her room, though she converses with her mother regularly from a distance.

The experience for the other returnee from the US, Garfield Evans, was similarly satisfactory and impressive.
According to him, he was treated like a king on arrival at the airport on June 30.

“The process was straight order, the persons who served on the… front, they were strict but polite and they treat us with love, respect and understanding and from that initial stage, it is put inside of us to follow the protocols,” he said.

For Mr. Evans, one of the most amazing parts of his experience at the airport was that there were more than one doctor assisting in the process. According to him, he observed three doctors.

“That is more than a first world treatment, I felt so proud to be a true Jamaican for the first time in a long long while and I think this process that I have gone through was a little bit more than the normal process that I would have to go through… But believe me it was worth it and I would never change this process to test on my own if I don’t have a kit,” he shared.

“I love to know that from the initial process I get an answer and I can go home, follow the protocol and I can protect my family and protect others. I think this is the best way forward,” he added.

In the meantime, Mr. Evans said he would like returning Jamaicans to appreciate that they are getting a ‘world-class standard’ treatment.

In June when the two returned, Jamaica was testing all arriving passengers however, the country has since modified its protocols and now all persons who are entering the island are subjected to a health screening and risk assessment test and those who are designated as high risk, will be required to be tested.

Visitors from countries that have been deemed to be a high risk are now required to do a pre-test and to upload the results when they are applying for permission to enter the country.

However, all returning residents will be required to abide by the 14- day quarantine order or a stay-at- home order for returning resident where they are allowed to leave once per day only to carry out basic needs.

Visitors to the island are required to stay- in -zone which means they can only move about in the tourism resilient corridor, while business travellers are required to stay within their intended-place for business and should only leave for business meetings.

Additionally, all persons placed under quarantine or isolation in their home, a hotel, at a government facility, or other location will be monitored electronically by the health authorities to ensure that they do not leave their designated quarantine location.

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