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JM | Sep 8, 2021

Senior Gov’t official confident ‘Americans will still come’ despite high-level CDC warning against travel to Jamaica

Gavin Riley

Gavin Riley / Our Today

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Tourists walk along the famous ‘Seven-Mile Beach’ in Negril, Westmoreland. (Photo: Sheldon Levene)

At least one Government official is brushing off assertions that Jamaica’s tourism product will be severely impacted by the country being listed as ‘high-risk’ for American travellers to contract the coronavirus (COVID-19) by the US-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 

Delano Seiveright, Senior Advisor and Strategist in the Ministry of Tourism, reacting like many Jamaicans when the Level Four CDC warning was issued on Tuesday (September 7), opined the advisory was ‘nothing new’, adding that “Americans still come”.

“Joining roughly 80 other countries including many of our Caribbean brothers. Been here before, Americans still come…Resilient Corridor remains very safe. Hopeful once we get a hold of our numbers we will be better categorised like before…important we vaccinate fast,” Seiveright replied to Wayne Chen, who shared a CNN article of the CDC warning for Jamaica.

The tweet has not been deleted. 

Many Jamaican Twitter users were taken aback by the rhetoric, which seemed ironic given the Government seemingly ‘strong-arming’ citizens to get vaccinated against COVID-19 while ‘unvaxxed’ tourists are afforded the privilege of choice. 

As the island’s cumulative caseload continues to dangerously swell, a few Jamaicans were confused why the tourism industry persists to operate contrary to the wider national interest—to get the high infection rate down. 

Delano Seiveright, tourism strategist.

In their eyes, the ‘shameless’ reliance by the Jamaican Government on American tourists, who make up the largest share of travellers to the island, is just one protocol breach from utter disaster. 

As the Delta variant rages, it is apparent richer countries are beginning to punish their poorer counterparts that boast an open border policy. 

Some Jamaicans offered suggestions to the setback, arguing that it was time the Government joins the Turks and Caicos Islands in mandating tourists be vaccinated as a condition to enter the country.

“Sir, it’s a pandemic. No one will be upset at u if you take precautions to protect the tourists & the nation from further exposure to this virus. Foreign govt’s are penalising us for our open border policy. The responsible thing to do is to mandate vaxxed visitors. It’s what’s best,” @twizzle876 replied to Seiveright.

More reactions:

While in Jamaica, tourists are restricted to hotels, restaurants, shops and attractions within the “resilient corridor.”

The same ‘corridor’ where tourists and hotel workers have been testing COVID-positive in recent weeks. 

Despite the white-hot outbreak being experienced in the country, Jamaica is also among nine Caribbean countries and territories listed in the United Kingdom’s ‘amber list’, which was last updated Monday, September 6.

Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana, Suriname, Cuba, Haiti, Dominican Republic were placed in the UK’s ‘red list’.

As part of pre-departure requirements, travellers must have proof of a negative COVID-19 test to return to England from Jamaica. 

The island just avoided being placed on the UK’s ‘red list’ when it was first published on August 26.

According to the Ministry of Health and Wellness, Jamaica confirmed 837 new COVID-19 cases on Monday, pushing the country’s caseload total to 72,824.

Of that number, the country is managing 21,671 active cases and 755 patients are currently being treated at hospital. There were 156 persons listed by health officials as ‘moderately ill’, 115 categorised as ‘severely ill’, while another 48 ‘critically ill’ admissions were recorded.

Some 1,646 Jamaican lives have been lost due to coronavirus-related complications, as encouragingly, 49,045 recoveries have been registered by the health ministry.

The latest vaccination statistics, provided by the ministry on Monday, indicate that 575,103 doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been delivered since April—and only 140,944 persons inoculated with both jabs. A total of 6,832 persons have received the single dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine, while 427,327 first-doses of either AstraZeneca or Pfizer have been administered.

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