Prime Minister Andrew Holness has reassured Jamaicans that the Government is prepared to deal with the novel coronavirus (COVID19).
Today (March 10), the Ministry of Health and Wellness announced the first confirmed case of the virus in Jamaica.
In a statement to the media today, from his office, Prime Minister Holness urged Jamaicans to remain calm as the Government provides the leadership and coordination to manage the situation as it evolves.
“While concern and fear are natural human reactions, there is no need for panic, hysteria, fearmongering or spreading of misinformation. This will only detract from the efforts of the government and redirect time and precious resources to correcting false information and resolving unnecessary disputes. I give you my assurance that the government will provide leadership and coordination and ensure that accurate and verified information is provided in a timely manner, on all pertinent matters relating to COVID19,” said Prime Minister Holness.
The Prime Minister’s statement follows the mobilization of the National Disaster Risk Management Council, last Thursday (March 5).
According to Prime Minister Holness, the Ministry of Health has outlined various risk-scenarios and the plans to mitigate. The Ministry of Finance has already made budgetary allocations to support mitigation plans. The Government has also updated its travel restriction list to include France, Germany, and Spain, and quarantine protocols have also been instituted.
In addition, the Prime Minister announced the establishment of a protocol to advise the Leader of the Opposition directly of any development and will convene an ad hoc bipartisan parliamentary committee, to ensure information sharing at the political level.
In that regard, Prime Minister Holness added that the Government will continue to monitor and manage the situation on an hourly basis and make decisions for the public health and safety as necessary. He says no essential travel by Government officials will be done.
“We have strongly advised our schools that normally send athletes to the Penn Relays not to do so. I have advised, through the Cabinet Secretary, all Government officials including Ministers, not to undertake nonessential travel. We are now analyzing the potential contagion impact of some large public events, and as the situation evolves, we will make appropriate decisions in favour of the health of the public. As it relates to schools, we have made financial provisions, recently announced by Minister Samuda, for schools to acquire hand sanitization products, as schools will continue to be open unless the Government of Jamaica directs otherwise,” said Prime Minister Holness.
In the meantime, Prime Minister Holness reiterated that there is no need for panic as the Government has now diligently activated all the plans to isolate cases, to trace and identify the cases of contact, and contain the potential spread of COVID-19.
Prime Minister Holness again urged members of the public to go about their normal business, take personal responsibility for health, hygiene, and travel, and pay close attention to the information provided by the Government.