Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator the Hon. Kamina Johnson Smith, is reporting that all of the 589 registered Jamaican nationals scattered across China are healthy and have not contracted the coronavirus (COVID-19).
She noted that included are persons in Wuhan, where the virus started.
The Minister said that, currently, there are 260 students studying in China on government and private scholarships, as well as on exchange programmes, and 273 workers and 56 dependents. Of that amount, 28 are staying in Wuhan.
“We continue to give thanks that we have not been made aware of any Jamaicans in China infected by the virus,” she said at a press conference on Thursday (March 12) at the Office of the Prime Minister in Kingston.
She said that the Government, with the assistance of the embassy staff and the executive of the Jamaican Association in China, were able to coordinate requests for support and to provide assistance to the Jamaicans.
“This varied from outreach to financial institutions to have late fees waived, including the Student Loan Bureau, to the provision of care packages to those in the epicentre in Wuhan, who were under lockdown,” she noted.
The packages contained emergency supplies such as masks, gloves, disinfectant, sprays, and hand sanitisers.
Senator Johnson Smith noted that through the assistance of the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service, a small cash allocation was provided to some 220 persons for the purchase of emergency supplies.
She said that others were able to obtain assistance from the Chinese Government’s Foreign Assistance Offices in Hubei and other provinces, and expressed gratitude on their behalf.
“Our nationals have exercised patience and endurance under difficult circumstances, so I have to express how proud I am of the many students and professionals, who have exhibited a strong Jamaican spirit of resilience, notwithstanding a time of great challenges and uncertainty,” Minister Johnson Smith said.
She hailed the Ministry’s staff in Beijing and the Consular team here, as well as the new Jamaican Association in China, chaired by Dr Nicoleen Johnson, for their invaluable support to nationals in China.
In the meantime, Senator Johnson Smith said that the Ministry is aware that 14 nationals have returned home from China, including seven students, and have cooperated with the public health guidelines.