Coronavirus
JM | Dec 15, 2020

Stricter restrictions imposed in Westmoreland as COVID rages

Gavin Riley

Gavin Riley / Our Today

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Reading Time: 3 minutes
Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness. (Photo: JIS)

Grand Market events in Westmoreland have been ordered cancelled as the parish sees a worrying spike in novel coronavirus (COVID-19) cases in the past week.

In addition to Grand Market’s cancellation, curfews begin at 7:00 pm to 5:00 am daily effective Wednesday (December 16), public gathering limits have been cut to 10 persons, while the burial limit remains unchanged at 15.

“A tighter curfew commencing at 7 pm nightly and ending at 5 am the following morning effective from 7 pm tomorrow December 16 and ending at 5 am on December 31, 2020; 

The general gathering limit for public places is being reduced from 15 to 10 persons;

—Prime Minister Andrew Holness

Prime Minister Andrew Holness, announcing the pre-Christmas event’s shut down and other measures on Tuesday (December 15), said the closure comes as the outbreak worsens in Westmoreland.

“A major hotspot is the parish of Westmoreland, where increasing cases coupled with increasing hospitalisations and deaths is a cause for grave concern,” Holness declared.

Photo: Pinterest.com

To date, Westmoreland has recorded 117 active cases, with 76 new cases just last week.  These cases are spread over 80% of the communities in the parish. 

“[T]he parish recorded a test positivity rate of 32.1% last week compared with 17.6%, the week before.  This means that approximately 1 out of 3 persons tested were positive for COVID-19.  This is over three times the national positivity rate of 9.3% for that week,” the prime minister added.

For burials, the maximum number of persons remains at 15; and 

Grand Market will be cancelled. 

—Prime Minister Andrew Holness

Holness further indicated that the parish’s largest hospital – Savanna-la-Mar Hospital – was at 87% of capacity yesterday. Out of the 18 COVID beds, 15 are occupied and the hospital is reporting 18-20 persons in the Emergency Department waiting on beds on the existing wards. 

“Of the four hospitals that support the Western Region, that is, Cornwall Regional, Falmouth, Savanna-la-Mar and Noel Holmes all are now at 80 – 90% bed occupancy,” he remarked.

The situation urgently requires intervention, Holness argued, so as to limit further spread of the virus and overwhelm the already strained-health system.

The Savanna-La-Mar Hospital in Westmoreland. (Photo: C&D Construction & Engineering)

At the same time, PM Holness urged Westmoreland residents to adhere to the prevention protocols of wearing a mask when in public spaces, maintaining the six feet social distancing, as well as frequent hand-washing practices.

“The evidence is before us and there is a clear need to act. We continue to monitor the numbers closely and I want to put everyone on notice that, if the escalation that we are seeing persists, we may need to tighten the measures further,” Holness explained.

“I am making a special appeal for strict observance of all the protocols and measures and for everyone to exercise vigilance and restraint,” he added.

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