A significant increase in COVID infection among Jamaican hotel workers mirroring the rise in the country (positivity rate of 35 per cent), is now a cause for concern for the tourism sector.
Senior medical officer at the Hanover Health Department, Dr Kaushal Singh has now drawn attention to the rapid increase among hotel workers in the parish.
Negril, a major tourism province partly resides in Hanover. Hedonism II has been singled out for the number of workers there reporting infections in recent weeks.
Sian Taylor, a guest from New Jersey holidaying at a hotel in Hanover, speaking with Our Today said: “At our hotel there are about 12 guests who have COVID symptoms. There can be no doubt that it is spreading in Negril but the Government is yet to say whether this new outbreak is due to the Delta variant. I suspect that it is.
“Many visitors will now be reluctant to go beyond the confines of their hotel on hearing this news. This new wave is more serious. You just have to look at Florida.”
Singh is calling on hotel workers, not just in Hanover but throughout the country, to take the vaccine. He believes the compliance levels in Jamaica are way too low and that spells major problems as the health sector buckles and the economy contracts.
Prime Minister Andrew Holness has said he will be going across the country, leading the charge in encouraging Jamaicans to take the vaccine.
At this point in time, just under eight per cent of the population has taken the jab.
Minister of Tourism Ed Bartlett is beseeching tourism workers to get inoculated.
“Tourism workers must always remember that they are valuable frontline workers who have a critical role to play in restoring the national economy and their own state of well-being. They must therefore play their part in helping to overcome the current setback created by the COVID-19 pandemic by taking the vaccine,” he declared in an issued press release.
Jillian Turnah, of MGM Grand in Las Vegas, said: “Ed Bartlett has done a fantastic job with Jamaica during this period of COVID. The hotels there have been returning to respectable capacity levels.
“The increased COVID infections in Jamaica in recent weeks I think is due to the Delta variant and that was going to happen. It was just a matter of time. It’s now a question of containing it and ensuring it doesn’t hurt Jamaica’s tourism product too much.
“If tourism workers continue to get infected at an alarming rate, this will lead to visitors getting sick and then the hotel sector may very well have to be shuttered for a while. It would be the sensible thing to do.”