JIS News

As more Jamaicans return to their physical places of work today (June 1), the Ministry of Health and Wellness, through its ‘Every One Counts’ campaign, commenced the distribution of masks to members of the public as part of its coronavirus (COVID-19) control efforts.

Through the initiative, which commenced at the Half-Way Tree Transport Centre in Kingston, more than 2,000 KN95 masks are to be distributed in major transport hubs and town squares islandwide by the Ministry’s regional health authorities, to promote the use of masks in public spaces.

Health and Wellness Minister, Dr. the Hon. Christopher Tufton, along with members of the South East Regional Health Authority (SERHA) distributed the masks to commuters in Half- Way Tree square.

Dr. Tufton, who addressed members of the media, emphasised the importance of wearing masks and observing the established safety protocols as the country seeks to return to some semblance of normality.

He said that control of the virus is only possible if every Jamaican takes personal responsibility by practising proper safety measures.

“We anticipate that more persons will be coming out to work, and as a consequence, more persons will be taking public transport and more persons will be moving around. There will be more congregating of persons and the possibility of the virus spreading is going to increase and what we want to do is to drive home the message to the public – please remember that part of the approach to reducing the risk of COVID-19 is to wear a mask in public spaces,” Dr. Tufton advised.

“What we are doing today is moving around Half-Way Tree square to see those persons who are not wearing masks and providing them with a mask. We are basically promoting the message that wearing masks in public spaces, practising social distancing and hand sanitising represent the ‘new normal’ in the fight against COVID-19,” he said.

Several commuters told JIS News they have embraced wearing a mask as a new way of life, as the country adapts to living with COVID-19.

Winsome said the mask provides added protection from infection, as she travels to and from work using public passenger vehicles.

“I don’t mind wearing a mask, because when you are in the bus, some people sneeze and cough on you. So I don’t mind wearing it,” she shared.

Donna commended the Ministry of Health for the initiative and said she has taught her children the importance of wearing a mask and its proper use and care.

“It is for our safety and protection. I wear it daily, and I have more than one, so when I get home I wash them and sanitise them and let them dry. I don’t have a problem. It is good,” she said.

Meanwhile, taxi operator, Junior, who plies the Three Miles and Seaview routes said he follows the recommended safety protocols to protect himself and his passengers from infection.

“We are trying to protect each and everyone. It is risky [to my health], but I just have to protect myself. I use my hand sanitiser, alcohol and I have several masks. I tell my passengers to put on their masks and keep the car windows down, and I sanitise my vehicle regularly,” he told JIS News.

When using a mask, persons are reminded that it should cover the nose and mouth. It is only to be handled when hands are cleansed or disinfected, touching only the straps to reduce possible contamination.

Additionally, persons should wash and sanitise hands regularly and avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth. Members of the public are urged to continue to observe the minimum six feet social distancing to prevent transmission of the virus.

The ‘Every One Counts’ campaign seeks to take Jamaicans on an inspiring and informed journey of security, hope and calm, as the Government prepares the nation to live with COVID-19.

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