Minister of Health and Wellness, Dr. the Hon. Christopher Tufton, says the Ministry is ramping up vigilance and enforcement measures to ensure that persons who have returned from overseas do not breach the home quarantine guidelines.
He noted that adherence is important in ensuring that persons who may be infected with the coronavirus (COVID-19) do not spread the disease in their household and wider community while they await their test results.
He informed that one person has been charged for disobeying the rules.
“There is a fine… up to one million [dollars] if you are caught, or six months in prison… . We have charged one person but nowhere near the amount… [so] we are going to have to step up the enforcement and the vigilance to discourage it,” he said.
Dr. Tufton, who was addressing a virtual press briefing on Thursday (June 18), cited the case of a person who has transmitted the virus to three other individuals in the household.
“We have discovered in the last 24 hours… one imported case since June 1… testing at the airport, discovering that it was a positive case, that person was extracted from their home.
“Subsequent tests of the family members revealed that there are three positive cases in that home, which would have been transmitted from the person who came in,” Dr. Tufton said.
The Health Minister said he has been receiving complaints that there are some Jamaicans who are breaching the orders and urged them to obey the guidelines established by the Government.
“I know that you have a family member who comes in and they are going to be excited about seeing their loved ones. But when we say you need to quarantine yourself, stay by yourself in a room, in a space, minimise the risk of contact until you get the test results, it is a very important directive.
“This is a real live case of someone contaminating the rest of their household, and the challenge with this is that one member who has been infected is the mother of the person who came in, who is an older person. That could mean a higher risk profile and the consequences, but we hope not, could be dire,” Dr. Tufton noted.
Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Jacquiline Bisasor-McKenzie, emphasised that every Jamaican needs to play their part in ensuring that more individuals do not contract the virus.
“It is not only you that is going to pay but the rest of your community when other persons become infected. As a population, we are all going to pay if it is we have spread the disease and then we have to go back to the restrictions that we are trying to get away from,” she noted.
Dr. Bisasor McKenzie reminded vulnerable persons such as the elderly and persons with underlying health conditions to be extremely cautious and comply with the guidelines implemented by the Ministry as they are more at risk of contracting the virus.
For her part, Professor of Public Health and Ageing, University of the West Indies (UWI), Dr. Denise Eldemire Shearer, pointed out that 72 per cent of Jamaicans over age 60 have a chronic illness.
“The Government did the right thing to make them stay at home to protect them,” she said, advising older persons to always wear their mask when they are conducting business.