The Westmoreland Health Department has partnered with transport groups within the parish to sensitise operators of public passenger vehicles about the coronavirus (COVID-19) health and safety protocols.
It will focus on regular cleaning and sanitisation of vehicles, the wearing of masks, sanitising hands, among other measures.
Health Promotion and Public Education officer, Gerald Miller, told JIS News that the awareness campaign comes against the background of a recent analysis by the Ministry of Health and Wellness, which indicates that individuals travelling in a taxi with an infected COVID-19 passenger are three and a half times more likely to contract the virus than a person living in a household with someone infected with the virus.
“What we have been doing as a Health Promotion and Education Unit is to use this data now to guide an intervention to get it into the consciousness of the taxi operators the risks that are involved,” he said.
“We have formed alliances with members of the Jamaica Union of Travellers Association (JUTA) and we have become a member of their WhatsApp group. What we have been doing is to use that platform to share information pertaining to COVID-19 and remind them from time to time about the protocols that they need to follow to reduce their risk and also to ensure the safety of their passengers,” he shared.
Mr. Miller noted that members of Jamaica Co-operative Automobile and Limousine Tours Limited (JCAL) and the Petersfield Taxi Association are also being targeted.
He told JIS News that there are also plans to stage public education sessions at transportation centres, taxi stands, bus parks and places of disembarkation across the parish.
One officer will be dispatched to the Savanna-la-Mar and the Whitehouse areas, another will be placed in Darliston, and a third will tackle operations in Negril and Grange Hill.
“We will engage the motor-vehicle operators, bus drivers and taxi operators and try to see if they are wearing masks.
We have a little survey that we will be administering to see if they understand the risk that is involved and also encourage the ones who are non-compliant with the wearing of mask [to do so],” Mr. Miller said.
He told JIS News that the Health Department remains proactive in the fight against the spread of COVID-19 as the parish continues to see an uptick in confirmed cases.
Up to Monday (September 7), Westmoreland had recorded 37 cases of COVID-19.