With no end in sight to the ongoing novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak in Jamaica, Prime Minister Andrew Holness has all but ended social gatherings in efforts to curtail the spread of the disease during the festive season.
According to a Tuesday (November 24) statement from Press Secretary in the Office of the Prime Minister, Naomi Francis, all gatherings, public and private, will have to adhere to the 15-person limit.
Additionally, a prohibition order will be imposed on parties and other social events for the 2020 Christmas period, with the measures commencing next Tuesday, December 1 through to mid-January.
Holness made the announcement during a presentation.
At a recent digital press briefing, Health and Wellness Minister Dr Christopher Tufton urged Jamaicans to not disregard the anti-COVID protocols for the festive season—as a surge in positive cases could spell trouble for the island.
In his address, Tufton argued that a steady increase in the number of persons coming to Jamaica’s shores since the country reopened in June, paired with our local traditions and social culture through the festive season, could easily result in a spike in cases come January.
“In June, we had some 14,426 passengers coming in from Norman Manley [International Airport], up from 3,778 in May. In July, we had 37,638 passengers and in August, 47,564 passengers also through Norman Manley alone,” he said.
“Greater numbers of persons visiting our shores means the probability of an increase in infections also will go up and we’ve seen that happen in the past. We anticipate that it will happen again, which means, the very distinct and strong possibility that given [our] traditions of Christmas, we will see a spike come January,” Tufton added.
Jamaica confirmed 79 new COVID-19 cases within the last 24 hours, bringing the island’s total caseload to 10,422. Four additional patients succumbed to coronavirus-related complications in the period, which leaves the death toll at 243.
With 5,572 recoveries to date, the island is currently managing 4,465 active cases.
Hospitalisations also have been trending upwards within the last several weeks, as some 79 persons are being treated, according to data from the Ministry of Health and Wellness.
Of that number, 12 patients have been categorised as ‘moderately ill’ while another 14 are determined to be ‘critically ill’.