- The Government has increased to five, the number of countries on which travel restrictions have been imposed as a result of the novel coronavirus (COVID 19).
- Minister of Health and Wellness, Dr. the Hon. Christopher Tufton, said that in addition to the People’s Republic of China where COVID 19 surfaced, effective Thursday (February 27), travel has been restricted between Jamaica and Italy, the Republic of Korea (South Korea), Singapore, and Iran, “where the majority of cases… have been due to in-country transmission”.
- He said that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade is in dialogue with representatives of the countries.
The Government has increased to five, the number of countries on which travel restrictions have been imposed as a result of the novel coronavirus (COVID 19).
Minister of Health and Wellness, Dr. the Hon. Christopher Tufton, said that in addition to the People’s Republic of China where COVID 19 surfaced, effective Thursday (February 27), travel has been restricted between Jamaica and Italy, the Republic of Korea (South Korea), Singapore, and Iran, “where the majority of cases… have been due to in-country transmission”.
He said that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade is in dialogue with representatives of the countries.
Dr. Tufton was speaking during a media briefing at the Ministry’s offices in New Kingston on Thursday (February 27), where he provided an update on COVID19.
He noted that the decision to impose travel restrictions on the four additional countries was based on a risk assessment, and the World Health Organization (WHO) February 26 COVID 19 Situation Report 37.
He advised that Italy has 322 reported cases and 11 deaths; South Korea – 1,261 cases and 12 deaths; Iran – 95 cases and 15 deaths; while Singapore has 91 cases, but no casualties.
Under the restrictions, all Jamaicans, who have travelled to any of these countries within the last 14 days, will have landing privileges in accordance with the law, but will be subjected to health assessments and quarantines, once they have landed.
Persons visiting those countries over the same period, but do not have permanent residence or marriage exemptions, will be denied landing privileges at any of Jamaica’s ports of entry; and non-Jamaicans with permanent residency and marriage exemptions, will be subject to health assessments and quarantines.
Additionally, persons granted landing privileges but are classified by the Ministry as high-risk will be quarantined in government facilities, while those assessed and deemed low-risk will be quarantined at home under the supervision of the respective parish health departments.
Dr. Tufton said persons granted landing privileges who display any symptom of COVID 19, as per the case definition published by the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO), “will be placed in immediate isolation at a health facility”.
He indicated that the Government is also reviewing the situation in Japan, where “some in-country transmission” has occurred.
The review, Dr. Tufton advised, is to determine whether that country should be included on the list of restricted countries, based on the risk. Japan has, to date, reported 164 cases and one death.
“The Ministry of Health and Wellness will continue to assess the situation in light of the spread and will make recommendations for adjustments, based on the risk assessment,” he pointed out.
Meanwhile, Dr. Tufton advised that as at February 26, a total of 141 persons, who had been in China, had arrived in the island.
He informed that five persons are in quarantine in government facilities; another five in home quarantine; and two in isolation “for whom we are awaiting test results”.
The Minister further indicated that the number of designated quarantine facilities has been increased to four “in anticipation of new arrivals”.
“So unlike in the past when countries had imported cases, what is happening now is that within countries, cases are being transmitted or spread internally, which makes these countries a higher risk than previously when the cases were isolated, based on imports,” he said.
Meanwhile, Chief Medical Officer (CMO), Dr. Jacquiline Bisasor McKenzie, who also spoke at the briefing, said a patient, who was placed in isolation at the Mandeville Regional Hospital, after visiting the institution on Wednesday (February 26) with symptoms thought to be similar to those characterising COVID 19, does not meet the virus case definition.
She advised that the individual, who travelled to China, arrived in Jamaica on February 23 after making several stops en route.
Dr. Bisasor McKenzie said upon examination, the individual was deemed to “[have had] enough symptoms for us to have them under investigation”.
“The Mandeville Hospital is one of [those] that, coming out of the Ebola outbreak, we had put in place an isolation unit. So we were able to move that person to that unit while we are conducting investigations,” she noted.
Dr. Bisasor McKenzie said that the patient remains stable and that the results of the tests conducted on the individual are expected later Thursday.