Following official confirmation from health experts that Jamaica is now enduring its fifth COVID-19 wave, Prime Minister Andrew Holness says the Government is closely monitoring the situation around the virus in the country and will take appropriate action as is necessary.
Speaking at the official handover of the Port Royal Street Coastal Revetment Project in downtown Kingston on Wednesday (May 18), Holness urged citizens to remain vigilant and alert, as the country is now experiencing the fifth wave of the pandemic.
“I believe the Ministry of Health (and Wellness) would have alerted the nation today that we are in the fifth wave, as we had always expected,” said the prime minister.
He noted: “But what we have observed is that citizens may have become complacent, believing that the pandemic is at an end.”
Holness stressed that the Government never declared that the pandemic was over, but that it was in the endemic phase “meaning that we are going to have to learn to live with this thing; it will come over and over and over again”.
He informed that “what is happening now is that we are seeing increased infections being detected as we go back to our full operations, including going back to school. So, we are encouraging all Jamaicans to protect yourself… we know the public health protocols now.”
The prime minister emphasised that it is now the personal responsibility of every citizen to protect themselves and urged persons to continue to follow the health protocols to reduce the risk of infection.
“Wear your mask; sanitise (your hands regularly). If you are ill, stay at home; if you don’t have to go out, then don’t. Be careful of how you move around in crowds – just be very conscious of your environment,” warned Holness.
While highlighting the importance of personal responsibility in protecting one’s self from the virus the prime minister disclosed: “clearly if our monitoring shows that we need to take certain preventative actions, we will very quickly and very rapidly mobilise… we are still prepared and ready to act.”
Holness’ comments the same day Dr Morais Guy, shadow minister of health and wellness, ripped the decision-making of the Cabinet and Minister of Health and Wellness Dr Christopher Tufton, declaring that they must take full responsibility for Jamaica’s new COVID crisis.
“In revealing the presence of the fifth wave this morning, it is alarming that the minister confessed that the inflection point was reached on April 22, 2022, and yet the country was only being told four weeks later” said Guy in a statement.
He argued that the minister was “off hand” in stating that the information was being provided so people could take steps to protect themselves when it is the duty of his ministry to lead public health responses.
The opposition spokesman said he had called for retention of mask-wearing indoors and testing of arriving passengers in Jamaica, but the Government, pressured by interested groups, ignored good sense.