Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, says the country should prepare itself for close to another year of measures, “before we can safely say there is a vaccine for distribution” to tackle the coronavirus (COVID-19).
During a virtual press conference on Monday (August 24), Mr. Holness said after the vaccine is developed, “then comes all the other issues about how it should be distributed and who should get it and all the legal and constitutional issues that have to be resolved around that”.
Mr. Holness said even if a vaccine is developed and approved next year to fight the pandemic, the process of having the vaccine produced then shipped here, then distributed, could be many months after the approval.
For months, several measures have been imposed and revised by the Government to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. The latest of these include curfew period of 7:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m. daily for the parishes of Kingston, St. Andrew, St. Catherine, and Clarendon, which will run until September 2; and a new islandwide curfew time from 9:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m., effective August 27.
Communities are also quarantined in St. Thomas and Clarendon, and 18 Corporate Area communities are being monitored; no funeral services will be held in churches, but burials can take place with only 15 persons in attendance, including the funeral officials and the persons preparing the grave site; churches have also been prohibited from holding conventions and other civic activities; and there have been consistent calls for persons to wear masks, sanitise and wash their hands regularly, and to practise social distancing.
He emphasised that the only real solution is for changed behaviour among Jamaicans, and for them to act responsibly.
In light of this, Mr. Holness reiterated that citizens should adhere to protocols and rules established to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
“If citizens want to ensure that our economy is protected and our health service is protected, then just do the simple things, such as wear a mask, and sanitise your hands regularly, particularly if you touch surfaces that are in public areas or surfaces you are unsure about,” he said.
“Maintain a social distance. That is the most difficult one it appears. This is how we have to live until we get a vaccine,” the Prime Minister said.