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With the increase in coronavirus (COVID-19) cases in Jamaica, districts in St. Thomas and Clarendon under quarantine, and 18 communities in Kingston and St. Andrew being monitored, there could be a delay in the planned reopening of schools in early September.

Health and Wellness Minister, Dr. the Hon. Christopher Tufton, gave an update during the question-and-answer segment of a virtual press conference at Jamaica House on August 17.

“The COVID response or COVID monitoring and surveillance is literally a day-to-day activity, ultimately leading to an observation of trends and an assessment of risks. As of now, there are concerns. I will rely on the public health team who are doing the actual monitoring, and they will, of course, recommend to the Cabinet… as it relates to school reopening,” the Minister said.

“The likelihood of a postponement or delay is real and I don’t think anyone would disagree with that as a possibility, because, ultimately, the health and safety of our children and, indeed, our population, would be paramount. However, it has to be dependent on the public health assessment of the risks and a recommendation that would advise accordingly. And that is an ongoing, almost a daily activity… and if we have to advise the Cabinet under extraordinary circumstances, or otherwise, we would do so,” he added.

Dr. Tufton said there are concerns in relation to COVID-19 cases, and if the trend continues, it could be a challenge, “but I will await some more time and assessment, and then the Cabinet will, of course, make the decision”.

In the last 24 hours, 16 new samples have tested positive for COVID-19. This brings the total confirmed COVID-19 cases in Jamaica to 1,129. At the same time, recoveries remain at 764 (a 67.7 per cent recovery rate).

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