JIS News

The Government has imposed a travel ban on all flights to and from China, and Jamaicans are also strongly advised not to travel to that country.

Minister of Health and Wellness, Dr. the Hon. Christopher Tufton, in making the announcement, says the travel ban comes in the wake of the World Health Organisation’s declaration of the  Coronavirus as a global health emergency.

Dr. Tufton was speaking at a press conference, held at the North East Regional Health Authority Office in Ocho Rios, St. Ann, on January 31.

He informed that persons entering the island from China will be subject to immediate quarantine for a minimum of 14 days.

“Quarantine facilities for these persons will be provided by the Government of Jamaica and they will be required to adhere to all restrictions, in line with the provisions under the Quarantine Act. Individuals returning from China who have been granted landing privileges and who show any symptom of Coronavirus will be put into immediate isolation,” the Minister emphasised.

He also informed that quarantine facilities at all public hospitals are operational, with a specialist facility at the National Chest Hospital, in Kingston.

Dr. Tufton said he recognises the inconveniences that the travel ban pose and has appealed to Jamaicans in China who may be affected for understanding.

“Our first and foremost objective is to secure the safety of the Jamaican people,” the Minister said.

“We certainly hope that those who have been affected will appreciate why this decision had to be taken. The Government of Jamaica, through my own Ministry, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, the Ministry of National Security and other Ministries have been monitoring the situation as it relates to the Coronavirus,” Dr. Tufton added.

The Minister said the virus poses a clear and present danger, and is spreading rapidly in terms of countries that are being affected.

Meanwhile, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator the Hon. Kamina Johnson Smith, said the Government continues to be in dialogue with verified Jamaicans residing in China.

“We are doing our very best to support them as best as possible. Every Jamaican overseas, their welfare and wellbeing is of importance and interest to the Jamaican government. Our students, our teachers and other persons living and working in China are at the forefront of our thoughts now, recognising the great concern that is being experienced because of this outbreak,” she said.

Senator Johnson Smith said the Ministry has also moved to further verify the number of Jamaicans living and working in China.

“We have created an online Jamaican form, which is now on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade’s website. We have shared it through the embassy in Beijing and through the community there. We have, since this week, over 400 registrations by Jamaicans who are across China. We know that the number of persons in Wuhan are about 29 and these are students, teachers and family members of those students and teachers,” she informed.

The Minister said she is aware of requests from Jamaicans to return home from China, but the Government is faced with several challenges, including logistics and restrictions of movement in that country.