It is Christmas time in the Caribbean, and celebrations have already begun. Gifts have been purchased, fruits have been soaked, menus have been established, and some people have already arrived home. With the UK reporting a new, more contagious strain of the COVID-19 virus, many countries are closing their borders as the UK re-enters a more strict lockdown to contain it.
As the number of COVID-19 cases continues to rise at an alarming rate in Jamaica, this new strain coupled with the holiday travel season poses a great risk not only to the economy, but to the Jamaican people.
On December 21, the Ministry of Health and Wellness issued a press release stating that effective immediately, all flights coming into the island from the UK will be banned for a period of two weeks. There are three flights headed to the Jamaica within the next 24 hours, and those will still be allowed to come in. The passengers on that flight will have 48 hours of state quarantine and PCR testing before they will be released to their families.
Armbands will be given to passengers to test negative so that they can be monitored and released to continue their two week quarantine. If a passenger tests positive, they will remain in a state facility in isolation until they recover.
The press release also reminds the family members who pick up their relatives that they need to continue to adhere to the protocols and guidelines to prevent transmission and infection, because symptoms can appear during the quarantine period, and then the virus can be transmitted to others.
The rules also apply to people who are coming into Jamaica after coming through the UK from other countries.
As far as leaving to travel to the UK, the Ministry of Health strongly advises Jamaicans to avoid it. Jamaican nationals who travel to the UK will be subject to the same quarantine and isolation rules when they return to Jamaica.
As of December 21, there were 65 new cases in people aged 7 to 89 years old in the preceding 24 hour period, bringing the total number of cases to 12,289. Approximately 10% of the samples tested are coming back positive.