Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, has announced tighter curfew hours, which will take effect today, Wednesday (February 10).
Mr. Holness, who was addressing the House of Representatives on Tuesday (February 9), said the islandwide curfew will commence at 8:00 p.m. instead of 10:00 p.m. nightly and end at 5:00 a.m. the following morning, until February 24, 2021.
The islandwide curfew is part of measures aimed at containing the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19).
In addition, the gathering limit will be reduced from 15 persons to 10 persons nationally.
Prime Minister Holness said the country is seeing increased hospitalisations across the island.
He informed that the islandwide hospital census is showing significant occupancy levels across the health regions.
“Currently, the Western Health Region is at 83 per cent of capacity, the Southern Region is at 76 per cent, the Northern Region is at 66 per cent and the Southeast Region at 59 per cent. Additionally, there are a number of hospitals across the island that are at or above 90 per cent occupancy level and this includes the May Pen Hospital, Kingston Public Hospital and Spanish Town Hospital,” Mr. Holness said.
“What we are seeing here, having interrogated this data, is that there is need for a greater sense of urgency, both on the part of the Government in our response, but more so on the part of the citizens. You have to take greater personal responsibility,” he added.
Mr. Holness also pointed to the questions on persons’ minds as to whether the spread the country is now experiencing is related in any way to the new strains or variants of the SARS-COV2 virus.
“The Ministry of Health and Wellness has advised that as part of their surveillance activities on new variants, they have sent off for genome sequencing, 14 positive samples from travellers from the United Kingdom and, later this week, plan to send off another 101 samples randomly selected by parish,” he informed.
He said that the results from genome sequencing “will give us better insights into how prevalent the new variants, if they exist, may be in Jamaica”.
The Prime Minister said another question that persons have been asking is whether the increased numbers are simply as a result of increased testing.
“While we have certainly increased our testing capacity, it is important to note that we have not changed our criteria for testing. Our testing has always been based on our surveillance and is focused on suspected cases, either as a result of symptoms or contact tracing. We do not rely on random testing,” he said.
Based on the information received from the Ministry of Health and Wellness, as of February 8, 2021, Jamaica recorded 17,701 cumulative cases of COVID-19. Some 359 persons have died due to the pandemic, representing a two per cent fatality rate currently.
The number of active cases, that is the number of persons who still have the virus, is 4,793. In the last 24 hours, Jamaica recorded 403 positive cases out of 1,935 samples tested, which is a test positivity rate of 20.8 per cent.