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COVID-19: Press Releases And Documents Related To Official Government Actions

March 12 – Schools Closed

Schools Closed for 14 Days in Light COVID-19

The Government has ordered the closure of all schools for 14 days effective tomorrow (March 13) in light of COVID-19 cases in Jamaica.

The institutions affected are all early childhood institutions, primary and prep schools, secondary schools, community and teacher’s colleges.

The announcement was made today (March 12) by Prime Minister Andrew Holness during a press briefing.

“As of tomorrow, schools will be officially closed for 14 days. We will review this decision after ten days, but I believe we have given notice, tomorrow will have been a low turnout day anyway, as was today. Parents would now have Saturday and Sunday to make further preparations for their children and that would give us time as well to complete our preparations to ensure that those schools who would not have internet connectivity would receive materials to distribute to students so that they can continue their education at home,” said Prime Minister Holness.

The matter will be reviewed in ten days. After this period, the Government will update the country.

Importantly, Prime Minister Holness noted that the suspension of schools is a precautionary measure to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in Jamaica. Where possible subjects will be taught online.

Meanwhile, the Prime Minister also advised the public of the closure of the community and HOPE training component, HEART Trust National Service and Training Agency (NSTA) with immediate effect for 14 days.

“The HEART Trust National Service and Training Agency has also advised that after reviewing their situation and without any objections from me, in fact, my agreement and endorsement, that they will close with immediate effect, so that means effectively tomorrow, all their community-based training programmes and all their HOPE training programmes. So those will remain closed for the next 14 days,” said Prime Minister Holness.

In the meantime, the Tax Administration of Jamaica has revised the deadline for the filing of income tax.

In that regard, companies, partnerships, self-employed persons and employed persons with other sources of income will now have until March 25, 2020, to file their income tax returns for the 2019 filing period and estimated returns for 2020 with no penalty.

“The Tax Administration of Jamaica wishes to advise all income tax filers that a decision has been taken to extend the income tax filing deadline to Wednesday, March 25, 2020. This means that companies, partnerships, self-employed persons and employed persons with other sources of income will now have until March 25, 2020, to file their income tax returns for the 2019 filing period and estimated returns for 2020,” said Minister of Finance and Public Service Dr Nigel Clarke.

Regarding, patient number one, the second confirmed case of COVID-19, Prime Minister Holness has appealed to persons who were on flight AA1515 from Miami to Montego Bay on March 7, 2020, to contact the Ministry of Health at Wellness at 888-ONE-LOVE or email at covid19@moh.gov.jm.

In the meantime, the Prime Minister advised those who are ill to remain in their homes and contact the Ministry of Health for advice.

Prime Minister Holness reiterated that members of the public should think smartly and act wisely to contain the virus.

extracted from: https://opm.gov.jm/news/schools-closed-for-14-days-in-light-covid-19/

March 3rd – Travel Advisory

Jamaica’s Travel Advisory for COVID-19

Jamaica is closely monitoring the outbreak of respiratory illness caused by a novel (new) coronavirus (renamed COVID- 19) first identified in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China. Cases of COVID-19  are being reported in a growing number of countries internationally. To date, there is no confirmed case of COVID- 19 in Jamaica.

On 30 January 2020, the International Health Regulations Emergency Committee of the World Health Organization declared the outbreak a “Public Health Emergency of International Concern” (PHEIC).

Subsequently, on the 31 January 2020, Jamaica placed a travel  restriction on all persons who have been in China in the 14 days prior to arrival in Jamaica. On the 27 February 2020, the travel restrictions were expanded to include South Korea, Iran, Singapore and Italy. Only persons who are Jamaican Nationals or non Nationals with permanent resident status or marriage exemptions will be landed. These persons will be subject to immediate quarantine for a minimum of 14 days.

Individuals returning from any of these countries who have been granted landing privileges and who show any symptom of the COVID-19 will be placed in immediate isolation. Quarantine facilities for these persons will be designated by the Ministry of Health and Wellness, and persons will be required to adhere to all restrictions, in line with provisions under the Quarantine Act. Isolation facilities are operational at public hospitals.

The Ministry of Health and Wellness, MOHW advises:

  • Jamaicans to avoid unnecessary travel to any affected area/ countries with local or community transmission.
  • Public Officers should not be granted permission for non essential travel to any country that has been identified in the travel restrictions.
  • Jamaicans to pay attention to the standard infection prevention and control precautions, especially as it relates to viral respiratory illnesses.
    • Avoid close contact with persons with cold and flu like symptoms (coughing, sneezing etc.) especially as they transit through airports;
    • Maintain distance of at least 1 meter from any individual with respiratory symptoms;
    • Frequently perform hand hygiene by washing hands thoroughly with soap and water or using a hand sanitizer if hands are not visibly soiled, especially after direct contact with ill persons or their environment;
    • Avoid touching their faces;
    • Persons with symptoms of acute respiratory infection should practice proper cough etiquette, that is, maintain distance from others, cover coughs and sneezes with disposable tissues and discard of it immediately after use, and wear a mask to decrease the spread of droplets to others.
  • Travellers should monitor the WHO website for territories with cases and to avoid these areas.
  • On return to Jamaica, travellers must indicate on their immigration card, all the countries visited in the previous six weeks and cooperate with the immigration officers and public health officers at the air and sea ports.

The MOHW remains vigilant in its efforts to keep the public safe from the COVID -19.

extracted from: https://www.moh.gov.jm/jamaicas-travel-advisory-for-covid-19/

March 2nd – Cruise Ship Guidelines

Health Ministry announces interim guidelines for cruise ships visiting Jamaica

In light of concerns from the cruise ship industry as to Jamaica’s requirements for admission to the island’s ports, the Ministry of Health and Wellness wishes to advise that Interim Guidelines have been drafted and circulated to the Port Authority of Jamaica and relevant agencies.

According to the guidelines, any passenger or crew who have traveled, within the last 14 days, to any country for which a landing restriction is in place will not be allowed to disembark.

The decision to grant these privileges to other passengers or crew will be dependent on a review of ill persons on board for a determination as to whether their symptoms include fever and/or respiratory illnesses, either at the time of arrival in Jamaican waters or during the cruise.

As such, the following information must be presented for assessment and decision-making.

  • Copy of the Medical Logs since the start of the voyage. In keeping with the “high risk” situation that the world now faces with respect to COVID-19, cruise lines should insist that all persons with illness report to the ship’s medical facility for treatment. Jamaica requests that travel history, temperatures and the presence or absence of respiratory symptoms be recorded and submitted for review.
  • Travel History for all persons in the Medical log. A travel history must be taken for all persons presenting to the ship’s medical facility. Any person who has a fever and/or respiratory symptoms who has been in a country where there is transmission of COVID-19 should be immediately isolated and close contacts quarantined (refer to the WHO document on Management of Public Health risks on ships).
  • Temperature log of all persons, including within the last 24 hours prior to arrival, traveling from the countries with travel restrictions within the past fourteen (14) days. Jamaica recommends that persons with a travel history to countries with transmission of COVID-19 be monitored on board as if in home/self quarantine. These persons were at risk of exposure to the virus and may be in the incubation phase of the disease. The early detection of symptoms and isolation of persons is key to stopping transmission. Therefore, persons must be monitored on board the ship and all persons encouraged to visit the ship’s medical facility if they are unwell. Jamaica requires that a temperature log be kept of all persons of interest and be submitted to the authorities in Jamaica.
  • Updated Maritime Declaration of Health within four (4) hours of the ship’s arrival.

These requirements have been increased in light of the increased risk to the country, with the rapid transmission of COVID-19 to now more than 60 countries, including three Caribbean territories.

extracted from: https://www.moh.gov.jm/health-ministry-announces-interim-guidelines-for-cruise-ships-visiting-jamaica/

February 27th – Expanded Travel Restrictions

Expanded Travel Restrictions

The Ministry of Health and Wellness wishes to advise that based on the risk assessment and the World Health Organization Situation Report 37 on the COVID-19, dated February 26, 2020, additional countries will be incorporated into the travel restrictions.

This is having regard to the fact that the majority of cases in those countries have been due to in-country transmission.

The countries to be added for travel restrictions are as follows:

  • Italy (322 cases, 11 deaths);
  • South Korea/Republic of Korea (1,261 cases, 12 deaths);
  • Singapore (91 cases, no deaths); and
  • Iran (95 cases; 15 deaths).

Of note is that we are reviewing the situation in Japan, where there are 164 cases and 1 death; and will advise whether that country is to be included in the list of restricted countries.


  1. all Jamaicans who have visited Italy, South Korea, Iran, and Singapore in the last 14 days will have landing privileges in accordance with the law but will be subject to a health assessment and quarantine;
  2. persons who have visited Italy, South Korea, Iran and Singapore in the last 14 days and who do not have permanent residency or marriage exemption in Jamaica will not be granted landing privileges at any of the country’s ports of entry;
  3. non-Jamaicans who have permanent residence and marriage exemptions who are landed and who had visited Italy, South Korea, Iran, and Singapore in the last 14 days will be subject to a health assessment and quarantine;
  4. persons who have visited Italy, South Korea, Iran and Singapore and have been granted landing privileges and classified by the Ministry of Health and Wellness as high risk will be quarantined in Government facilities; and those who are assessed by the Ministry of Health and Wellness as low-risk will be quarantined at home under the supervision of the Parish Health Department; and
  5. e)   individuals returning from Italy, South Korea, Iran and Singapore who have been granted landing privileges and who display any symptom of COVID-19, as per the case definition published by the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization, will be placed in immediate isolation at a health facility.

The Ministry of Health and Wellness will continue to assess the situation in light of the spread and will make recommendations for adjustments based on the risk assessment.


There is a well-established system in place for the protection of our sea ports and it has been since the enactment of the Quarantine Act of 1951.  This was in evidence on Tuesday, Feb 25 in St. Ann.

As previously reported, a cruise line with more than 4,500 passengers and more than 1,600 crew members was denied access to the port of call in Ocho Rios, St. Ann.

The vessel arrived at approximately 8:30 a.m. and, upon inspection by Port Health Officials, it was discovered that a crew member had been put in isolation on board. The crew member had a cough, fever and associated muscle pains, together with a travel history to a country of interest relating to COVID-19.


As at Feb 26, 141 persons arrived in Jamaica who had been in China 14 days prior to arrival here.

There are now 5 persons in quarantine in Government facilities.

There are now 5 persons in home quarantine.

There are now 2 persons in isolation and for whom we are awaiting test results.

We have now designated 4 number of quarantine facilities in anticipation of new arrivals.


As previously announced, Cabinet had instructed that a National Coordinating Committee be put in place.

That committee, co-chaired by the Prime Minister and Minister of Local Government Desmond McKenzie, is comprised of a wide cross section of stakeholders, including members of industry, the public sector and civil society.

The committee will host its first meeting early next week and will examine all of the preparedness functions of the entire Government apparatus.

As we continue to refine our preparedness for COVID-19, the Ministry and our stakeholders urge the public for its continued cooperation and partnership.

extracted from: https://www.moh.gov.jm/expanded-travel-restrictions/

Jamaica issues ban on China-related travel

Jamaica has imposed a ban on travel to and from China, in the wake of the World Health Organization declaration of the novel Coronavirus as a global health emergency.

All persons entering the island from China will be subject to immediate quarantine for a minimum of 14 days.

Quarantine facilities for these persons will be provided by the Government of Jamaica and persons will be required to adhere to all restrictions, in line with provisions under the Quarantine Act.

Individuals returning from China who have been granted landing privileges and who show any symptom of the novel Coronavirus will be put in immediate isolation.

Isolation facilities are operational at all public hospitals, with a specialist facility available at the National Chest Hospital.

Jamaicans are strongly advised not to travel to China. Those who travel to China will be subject to the quarantine or isolation procedures as outlined, on their return to Jamaica.


7 Tips: How To Eat Healthy And Enjoyably

The following information was published in The Gleaner Help Guide

How To: Eat Healthy And Enjoyably

It is possible to eat healthy and enjoy the foods you’re eating at the same time. Healthy eating does not have to be a strict system that deprives you of the food you love. The idea is to find a balance in the type of foods you eat.

If you’re dieting, you just need to find a programme that works for you. Remember that starvation and dieting are two completely different concepts!

  1. Set yourself up to actually succeed.

Planning a healthy diet isn’t about a drastic change in how you eat, but it is rather a process made up of small and simple steps. For example, if you enjoy doughnut, but you want top eating them; progressively reduce the amount you eat periodically.

Start slow and make small changes to your eating habits. Depriving yourself of a particular food only makes you crave that particular food more. Every change you make will improve your dieting.

It doesn’t matter how small.

2. Eat with moderation.

What is moderate depends on your eating habits. Remember that the goal of healthy eating is to develop a diet that you can maintain for a lifetime and not for a few weeks. Have smaller proportions (start with what you can handle). Remember that it’s not what you eat, but how you eat.

3. Listen to your body.

Ask yourself if you are really hungry at times. Have a glass of water to see if it’s really thirst or hunger. During a meal, stop eating before you feel full; it take a while for your brain to recognise that you are actually full.

Also, avoid eating late at night.

4. Have a big breakfast and eat smaller portions throughout the day.

5. Eat a lot of fruits and vegetables.

Especially the ones you enjoy. They are rich in nutrients that your body needs.

6. Use and eat more healthy fats.

Avoid unhealthy fats. Some healthy fats are vegetable oils, avocado, peanut oil and olive oil.

7. Limit the amount of sugar and salt.

Sugar causes energy ups and downs and can add to health and weight problems.

10 Facts On Mental Health

Mental illness is real, here are 10 facts concerning mental health from around the world:

6. Stigma and discrimination against patients and families prevent people from seeking mental healthcare

Misunderstanding and stigma surrounding mental ill health are widespread. Despite the existence of effective treatments for mental disorders, there is a belief that they are untreatable or that people with mental disorders are difficult, not intelligent or incapable of making decisions.

This stigma can lead to abuse, rejection and isolation and exclude people from healthcare or support. Within the health system, people are too often treated in institutions that resemble human warehouses rather than places of healing.

7. Human-rights violations of people with mental and psychosocial disability are routinely reported in most countries

These include physical restraint, seclusion, and denial of basic needs and privacy. Few countries have a legal framework that adequately protects the rights of people with mental disorders.

8. Globally, there is huge inequity in the distribution of skilled human resources for mental health

Shortages of psychiatrists, psychiatric nurses, psychologists and social workers are among the main barriers to providing treatment and care in low- and middle-income countries. Low-income countries have 0.05 psychiatrists and 0.42 nurses per 100,000 people. The rate of psychiatrists in high-income countries is 170 times greater, and for nurses, is 70 times greater.

9. There are five key barriers to increasing availability of mental-health services

In order to increase the availability of mental health services, there are five key barriers that need to be overcome:

  1. the absence of mental-health from the public health agenda and the implications for funding
  2. the current organization of mental-health services
  3. lack of integration within primary care
  4. inadequate human resources for mental health
  5. lack of public mental-health leadership

10. Financial resources to increase services are relatively modest

Governments, donors and groups representing mental-health service users and their families need to work together to increase mental-health services, especially in low- and middle-income countries. The financial resources needed are relatively modest: US$2 per capita per year in low-income countries and US$3-US$4 in lower middle-income countries.

How To: Protect Yourself In Case Of A Fire

How To: Protect Yourself In Case Of A Fire

The last thing you want to do at the time of a fire is to be thinking about your escape route, trying to figure out your next move or have malfunctioning equipment.

Plan ahead, with persons that you work with, your family and always include your children in the planning.

One member of Jamaica Fire Department pointed that for homes and businesses:

  • It is always best to have smoke detectors, fire extinguishers, automatic fire sprinklers and fire alarm.
  • These must be serviced on a quarterly basis to avoid malfunction in the case of an emergency
  • Have a contingency plan – what do in case there’s a fire
  • It’s always a good idea to try and remain as calm as possible and stick the plan of how to exit
  • Have a direct number for the Jamaica Fire Brigade in close proximity. Calling the operator may delay the response time of the fire brigade

As it relates to motor vehicles:

  • Have a working fire extinguisher and plan an exit strategy for the car, and always remember to involve your children

Other things to pay keen attention to:

  • Test doors before opening them – if hot, use another escape route.
  • If you are trapped, close the door between you and the fire and close cracks to keep out smoke. If you have a phone on your person, call the fire brigade and inform them of where you are. Signal for help with a flashlight if there’s a window in the room.
  • Crawl on the floor to escape smoke – clean air will be nearer to the floor
  • Show children how to crawl through smoke to get clean air, and never leave children alone in case of fire.

Always remember that disaster can happen quickly and without warning. Call the fire brigade at 110 in case of fire.

Source: The Gleaner, The Jamaica Fire Brigade

COVID-19: Official Press Releases From The Ministry of Health And Wellness

February 13 MOHW Press Release – 2 Negative

Two other patients test negative for Novel Coronavirus

The Ministry of Health and Wellness is advising the public that the test results for all three patients who were placed in isolation for investigation of the Novel Coronavirus have come back negative.

The results for the second and third patients were received today (Feb 13) from the Caribbean Public Health Agency, following on the receipt of the first from the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention yesterday (Feb 12).

The first patient, who had arrived in Jamaica on January 30, presented at the Annotto Bay Hospital and was later isolated for further investigation. The public was informed on February 10 and February 12 respectively of the second and third person being put in isolation.

In the case of the second, the individual had an elevated temperature, which was detected while in quarantine. The third individual was put in isolation after being detected with a fever on arrival at the Sangster International Airport in Montego Bay on February 11. All three patients will now be discharged, given their negative test results.

The Ministry is reminding the public that quarantine and isolation procedures are in place to allow for the detection and early investigation of all persons who may have been exposed to the virus.

The Ministry is also reminding the public that infection prevention precautions, such as frequent hand washing; coughing and sneezing in tissue and discarding it; as well as avoiding contact with ill persons must be practiced by all. Further, persons who are having flu-like symptoms must stay away from other persons to prevent the spread of infection.

extracted from: https://www.moh.gov.jm/two-other-patients-test-negative-for-novel-coronavirus/

February 13 MOHW Press Release – 1 Negative

Patient Tests Negative for Novel Coronavirus – A third Jamaican Isolated

The Ministry of Health and Wellness would like to advise the public that the results for the first patient, who was placed in isolation, have come back negative for the novel Coronavirus (COVID19). The results were received on Wednesday, February 12 from the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention. This patient had arrived in Jamaica on January 30 and presented at the Annotto Bay Hospital and later isolated for further investigation. The patient will now be discharged.  The public was informed on February 10, 2020 of a second person that was isolated after an elevated temperature was detected while the person was being monitored in a government quarantine facility. A sample has been taken and sent to the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) for testing.

In the meantime, a third Jamaican has been put in isolation following arrival into the island at the Donald Sangster International Airport in Montego Bay, St. James. The traveler arrived on Tuesday, February 11 and underwent the relevant protocols in keeping with the current travel restrictions. The Jamaican, who had traveled from China was discovered to have had a fever and was immediately isolated.

“This patient has been isolated in keeping with our protocols whereby anyone who has travelled from China in the last 14 days prior to arrival and has symptoms will be isolated and investigations carried out.” The next steps for this patient will include management of the fever and any other symptoms that develop. A sample has already been sent to the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA), where it will be tested for the novel coronavirus, (COVID 19). We expect a 48-hour turnaround time for the results once the sample is received.”  Dr. Jacquiline Bisasor McKenzie, Chief Medical Officer noted.

The Ministry wishes to remind the public that the quarantine and isolation procedures are in place to detect and investigate early, all persons who may have been exposed to the virus. The Ministry further advises that infection prevention precautions such as, frequent hand washing; coughing and sneezing in tissue and discarding it, as well as, avoiding contact with ill persons must be practiced by all. Persons who are having flu-like symptoms must stay away from other persons to prevent spread of the infection.

extracted from: https://www.moh.gov.jm/patient-tests-negative-for-novel-coronavirus-a-third-jamaican-isolated/

February 6 MOHW Press Release – 300 Trained

Over 300 trained in Coronavirus Response

The Ministry of Health and Wellness has trained some 329 frontline employees at the Norman Manley International and Sangster’s International Airports, as Jamaica continues its preparedness for a possible introduction of the novel coronavirus to the island. Persons facilitated in the training programme included employees from Immigration, Customs, Port Health, Airport Police, Jamaica Fire Brigade, Aviation Services, various Airlines personnel and managers at Ports.

The training focused on the role and responsibilities of the point of entries staff and employees to remain observant and vigilant and how to tactically identify infectious or potentially infectious persons and to swiftly implement appropriate interventions such as quarantine, when deemed necessary.

The novel coronavirus was first reported in Wuhan, China last year. Symptoms include respiratory symptoms, fever, cough, shortness of breath, and breathing difficulties. More severe infections can cause pneumonia, kidney failure and even death.

The World Health Organization has declared the novel Coronavirus as a global health emergency.

4 Financial Quotes to Increase Your Wealth

Michelle Sinclair-Doyley of JMMB gives some of her favourite philosophical quotes that have guided her and hopes that they will guide you towards your journey of a wealthier life:

1. “How many millionaires do you know have become wealthy by investing in savings accounts? I rest my case.” (Robert G. Allen):

Savings accounts are designed for safety and liquidity. However, growing your portfolio will require taking greater risk which can include investing in real estate and the stock market; which in the long run should outperform inflation and depreciation of the J$.

2. “The individual investor should act consistently as an investor and not as a speculator.” (Ben Graham):

Well-timed, quick supernormal profits seldom occur. Instead your financial decisions should be guided by facts and solid analysis. Additionally, determine the criteria for the assets to be included in your portfolio, for example, assets selected should meet your investment objective and your timeline, whether 1 year, 3 years or more than 10 years (short term – long-term). JMMB’s website shares market research, stock prices and portfolio strategies to keep you informed and provide you with factual analysis.

3. “Know what you own, and know why you own it.” (Peter Lynch):

It is important to recognize that each asset class (such as real estate, bonds or stocks) and each asset in that class serve a different role. For example, when purchasing stocks it is good to diversify across industries. Ideally, it would be best to include stocks that move in opposite directions. For example, if you have agricultural stocks, a construction stock may be purchased to add balance to the portfolio, in the event of a hurricane, although the agricultural related stock prices may fall, in the rebuilding process, construction related stock prices should increase. Investors should also include different assets in diversifying their portfolio; by including cash to offer liquidity, bonds for consistent cash flow and stocks to outperform depreciation. Unit trusts are also an excellent way to diversify your investment, with the opportunity to benefit from expert management, so that you can reap the best returns on your investment.

4. “Always start at the end before you begin. Professional investors always have an exit strategy before they invest. Knowing your exit strategy is an important investment fundamental.” (Robert Kiyosaki):

With this mindset of the goal at the beginning of the journey, investors should try to purchase assets well below its top price, if not it will be difficult to obtain large profits on the sale of these assets. Additionally, in order to be less emotionally led, set investment guidelines for yourself including your desired profit margin and sell when the market prices reaches your target prices. You can use JMMB’s Moneyline to enter the price for a stock at which it should be automatically sold, making this an automatic process for you.

Taken from JMMB’s Finance Made Simple with Michelle series which appears in The Gleaner. Michelle Sinclair-Doyley, Manager, Client Financial Education, JMMB Group

Zero Hour: Our Region in the Face of the Pandemic

The following is an op-ed piece by Alicia Bárcena, Executive Secretary of the United Nations’ Economic Commission of Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), on the economic and social consequences of the COVID-19 crisis

March 25, 2020

“Everything seems to be one gigantic mistake. We console ourselves by saying that everything has happened as it should not have happened. But it is we who are mistaken, not history. We must learn to look reality in the face; if necessary, we must invent new words and new ideas for these new realities that are challenging us. Thinking is the first obligation of the intelligentsia, and in certain cases it is the only one.” – Octavio Paz, The Labyrinth of Solitude

It is true that history recounts the devastating impact of past pandemics, but none of them broke out in such a populated world (with more than 7.7 billion people) or such an interconnected one, and with a planet that is ailing environmentally. This is the biggest human and health crisis we have ever faced. That assertion must serve as our guiding principle if we are to approach it effectively. It has, of course, profound economic implications, but the center of attention, the focus of public policy decisions, must be on safeguarding one of the most valuable global public goods in existence: people’s health and well-being.

With this in mind, it is fitting to mention that Latin America and the Caribbean will be impacted via five main external channels :

  1. the decline of economic activity in our principal trading partners, especially China;
  2. the fall in prices for our commodities;
  3. the interruption of global and regional value chains;
  4. the steep drop in demand for tourism services, which primarily affects the Caribbean; and
  5. an increase in risk aversion and the worsening of global financial conditions and capital outflows from the region, with the consequent devaluation of our currencies.

The onslaught of COVID-19 came at a bad time. Worldwide, 2019 marked the worst performance in the last decade (2.5% growth in GDP). In the case of Latin America and the Caribbean, this performance was even more dramatic. To find worse growth levels than what the region recorded in the last seven years, one must look back as far as seven decades.

Just a few months ago, and after ending 2019 with poor regional growth of just 0.1%, ECLAC estimated that 2020 would witness a modest rebound and the growth rate would reach 1.3% of GDP. Today, a conservative estimate – based on data that is still in the process of stabilizing – tells us that Latin America and the Caribbean will record negative growth of -1.8% this year, with a probable downward bias.

The effects of this crisis on our main trading partners portend a decline in the value of our region’s exports that could reach a magnitude of -10.7%. This scenario entails a significant increase in unemployment along with heightened labor market informality.

The consequent effects of negative growth and higher unemployment translate into an increase in poverty and extreme poverty. If the base data is confirmed, in 2020 the number of poor people would rise from 186 million currently to 220 million, and the quantity of Latin American and Caribbean inhabitants who live in conditions of extreme poverty would rise from 67.5 million to 90.8 million.

This crisis finds us with fragmented health care systems and without universal coverage, where more than 47% of the population currently has no access to social security. A crisis that is particularly vicious for the 58 million people over 65 years of age in our region.

The challenge is enormous, and it demands that we renew our toolbox. Each country will have to creatively explore and expand the framework of its possible responses, recognizing that there are no known formulas, while also recognizing that there are some imperative steps to be taken.

In the current situation, it cannot be overlooked that massive fiscal stimulus is needed to bolster health services and protect income and jobs, among the numerous challenges at hand. The provision of essential goods (medication, food, energy) cannot be disrupted today, and universal access to testing for COVID-19 must be guaranteed along with medical care for all those who need it. Providing our health care systems with the necessary funds is an unavoidable imperative.

When we talk about massive fiscal stimulus, we are also talking about financing the social protection systems that care for the most vulnerable sectors. We are talking about rolling out non-contributory programs such as direct cash transfers, financing for unemployment insurance, and benefits for the underemployed and self-employed.

Likewise, central banks have to ensure liquidity so the production apparatus can guarantee its continued functioning. These efforts must translate into support for companies with zero-interest loans for paying wages. In addition, companies and households must be aided by the postponement of loan, mortgage and rent payments. Many interventions will be needed to ensure that the chain of payments is not interrupted. Development banks should play a significant role in this.

And, certainly, multilateral financing bodies will have to consider new policies on low-interest loans and offer relief and deferments on current debt servicing to create fiscal space.

It is also urgent that unilateral sanctions and blockades, imposed in the world and in our region, be lifted, because they hamper entire populations’ access to goods and services that are indispensable for fighting this sanitary challenge. Today, humanitarian considerations come before any political differences. Health cannot be held hostage to geopolitical quarrels.

This is a complex time, and it comes as our planet is ailing. It is experiencing one of its worst phases in environmental terms, with polluted oceans and rivers, devastated forests, eroded soil, mass extinction of species, and altered climatic cycles. This must be the time to reflect on the unsustainability of the extractivist and unequal development model.

This new health crisis has exposed the fragility of this globalization and of the development model on which it was based. The breaking of supply chains, the decline in global growth, and the performance of financial markets have exposed the global vulnerability of our economies. In light of the evidence of this crisis, the global community will have to face the fact that globalization did not work as promised and it must be reformed.

The decoupling between financial markets and the real economy’s flows must be contained and regulated. International trade is not an inevitable driver of long-term growth without policies for diversifying and transforming production. Inequalities, between countries and within them, aggravate the fragility of the global system and must be rolled back.

This pandemic has the potential to transform the geopolitics of globalization, but it is also an opportunity to survey the benefits of multilateral action and make room for needed debate on a new, sustainable and egalitarian development model. Because, “if necessary, we must invent new words and new ideas for these new realities that are challenging us.”

Read more from UN-ECLAC: COVID-19 Will Have Grave Effects on the Global Economy and Will Impact the Countries of Latin America and the Caribbean


List: COVID-19 Response Measures

Here’s a list of COVID-19 response measures announced by the Government of Jamaica and the Private Sector – so far – to help us navigate this challenging time. This does not include the health sector response. These are only the measures to support other critical aspects in the economy that impact lives and livelihoods. It will be updated regularly but check with Jamaica Gleaner for the very latest. Listed in date order, newest first. Please read all original articles for important details.


COVID Relief For Informal Sector – Cabbies, Barbers, Barmen In Good Standing To Benefit.

““The Government is going to give a grant to individuals that they are not entitled to, that they have not earned, but a grant due to the circumstances,” the finance minister explained, adding that registration authorities would help with verifications.”  Read more here


BOJ Takes Pre-Emptive Measures To Keep Financial System Humming – Expects Economy To Contract 3%, Led By Tourism Fallout

“The eight measures outlined by Byles on Thursday – some of which were previously announced by the central bank – include direct sales of foreign exchange to authorised dealers and cambios, as needed; alongside a halt on investment transactions that require the purchase of foreign exchange.”  There are more.  Read here.


Hi-Lo Offers Discounts To Senior Citizens, Healthcare Workers

Hi-Lo has is now offering a 10 per cent discount to healthcare workers islandwide. It is also extending a five per cent discount to senior citizens on all purchases made between 8 and 10 a.m. daily. A release from GraceKennedy yesterday said both special offers will be in place until further notice.  Read more here


Sagicor Life Implements Coronavirus Measures

According to a release from Sagicor, among the measures is the granting of an additional 30 days grace period for life insurance clients to pay premiums. “Premium payments can be made online using Client Web, a free and convenient platform that also enables policyholders to receive payouts electronically. Online payments can also be made using Paymaster and Bill Express online services. Clients may also pay premiums using bank transfers, standing orders and salary deductions.”  Read more here


Education Ministry Partners With RJRGLEANER Communications Group To Provide Educational Content To Students


The Ministry of Education, Youth and Information has partnered with the RJRGLEANER Communications Group to deliver live interactive teaching sessions across all media platforms for high school students in Jamaica.

The agreement will see the RJRGLEANER brands, Television Jamaica (TVJ), The Gleaner’s Youth Link, Music 99FM, jamaicagleaner.com, televisionjamaica.com, Television Jamaica You Tube, Jamaica News Network (JNN) and 1spotmedia provide live and pre-recorded content to students.

Read more here:


Banks Forgo Asset Tax Cut To Provide $3b For Jamaica’s COVID-19 Response.


  • “This will allow the government to add $3.02 billion to the $7 billion already announced as contingency to deal with COVID-19.”
  • “Special Consumption Tax (SCT) will be waived on 100,000 litres of alcohol which will be donated to National Health Fund.”
  • “Customs charges on liquid soaps, sanitisers, masks and gloves have been waived for 90 days.”

Read more here

See Screenshot of Fiscal Stimulus Measures




JN Bank Suspends Some Fees

  • “Since Saturday, MultiLink fees have also been suspended for persons using JN Bank debit cards at MultiLink ATMs or to make purchases in stores…until Sunday, March 22.”
  • Suspended all fees to conduct in-branch transactions.

Read more here.



BOJ Expanding Access To Local, Foreign Currencies By Financial Institutions. Measures listed in the link.


NCB Waives Some Fees Amid COVID-19 In Jamaica. Measures for personal, corporate and commercial customers, small and medium enterprises.  Read link for details.




Tree Planting (and Maintenance), Climate Action and Me

Tree planting is a long standing activity that has been promoted by the non-profit and public sectors. Did you also know that March 21 was established as the International Day of Forests by a resolution of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) and is celebrated annually?

Seedlings collected at the Forestry Department for National Tree Planting Day activities in Treasure Beach. Photo: Do Good Jamaica

In the public sector, this has been done primarily by the Forestry Department of Jamaica via National Tree Planting Day – which was first observed in 2003 – and its Private Planting Programme and other activities. Did you know that, each year, the first Friday in October is observed in Jamaica as National Tree Planting Day?

Other public sector entities promoting tree planting include the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture & Fisheries MICAF) and its agency, the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA), primarily for fruit-bearing trees.

The recent announcement of the Government of Jamaica’s ‘Three Million Trees in Three Years’ National Tree Planting Programme has sparked significant interest in tree planting activities. This resurgence of interest in tree planting is great news for many reasons. It represents an activity that can:

  • help to mitigate climate change – as long as it is done properly; discussed in the final paragraph below;
  • contribute to food security and livelihoods;
  • improve air and water quality;
  • reduce land slippage and soil erosion – we all want to protect our property and infrastructure as best we can;
  • provide ecosystem benefits. An ecosystem is a community of both the living (plants, animals, etc) and non-living (soil, etc) components which are connected and interact through the food web, nutrient cycles and energy flows;
  • provide recreational and aesthetic value (forest therapy etc); and
  • preserve our heritage. How many of us have heard about the Kindah Tree in Accompong which is of tremendous importance to the Maroons? And how many of us have a navel string tree or even know what it is?

And to think that those are just a few selected potential benefits.

Naturally, the question then becomes, what does this mean for me, personally? What do I need to consider in deciding whether or not I want to plant and maintain 1 tree or 1,000 trees? Here are a few things I’ve learned, that I tend to think about, and that may be useful to you as well:

Purpose: What sort of functionality do I want from this tree? What type (a.k.a species) of tree is of interest to me? Would I like fruit, lumber/timber, shade, aesthetics, carbon sequestration (this refers to carbon that is stored by trees), or a combination of those and other benefits? Different trees have different characteristics.

Hammock between coconut trees at Treasure Cot, Jakes Treasure Beach

Maintenance: What type of tree do I want to care for? Yes… they do require care especially until they are well established, and they may require care beyond establishment. What is establishment? Establishment is the point at which a seedling requires less care than it did initially (think of caring for a newborn baby versus a more independent toddler). Why might they require care beyond that point? If you have done the work to establish a healthy tree, you want to ensure that you can enjoy maximum benefits for as long as possible.

Care and maintenance are critical. Photo: The Nature Conservancy

Location and environment: Where do I want to plant this tree (hillside or flat land for example)? What sort of environment do I have available? Is it usually wet because there is a lot of rain, or is it drier because there is very little rain? What kind of soil is there and what will grow well in it? Is it a sunny or a shaded location? Also remember that some seedlings will grow into trees that require a lot of space so proper spacing is also important. Different trees have different needs.

Mango tree in St. Elizabeth, the bread basket where farmers are experienced with dealing with drought conditions. Photo: Gary Dean Clarke

When to plant: Planting season in Jamaica usually corresponds with the two (2) traditional rainy seasons… because this makes it easier for the seedlings to become established. Consequently, in Jamaica, planting is traditionally encouraged between April-May and September-November. It is important to note that in recent years there have been some changes to the amount, frequency and seasonality of rainfall in many parts of the island and with the continued impact of climate change we will have to continue to adjust accordingly.

Be careful with bamboo. It is an invasive species and spreads fast.

Plant to strengthen not weaken existing ecosystems. We should also remember that removing and damaging “bush” might actually mean damaging an important functioning ecosystem. The last thing we want to do is cause environmental damage by improperly conducting an activity that is actually aimed at benefiting the environment. For example, removing mangroves (remember that mangroves are trees!) also removes a natural coastal defense system and this might result in coastal erosion (including loss of our beaches in some places), damage to our coral reefs and other marine ecosystems (there’s that word again), and loss of fish and shellfish nurseries and habitat (i.e. natural homes or environment).

Other considerations: Other users and/or consumers of seedlings and trees and the places where they grow may also include our four-legged friends such as goats; some consideration should therefore be given to securing your investment accordingly. Also consider the potential impact of improper planting techniques and choices. The first and most obvious is the reduced likelihood of survival and yield. We want to ensure that the technique we use is the most appropriate technique for the scale, location and type of tree being planted. In many places, seedlings are still planted manually – this is certainly the norm in Jamaica and it has been successful.

There are many ways to be responsible stewards of our environment, and to play a part in mitigating against and adapting to climate change individually, within our communities, as a nation, and globally. This is one avenue that may be explored.

Remember… technical expertise is available.  So if you are not sure about planting and maintaining trees, we encourage you to ask. Some organisations with these technical resources that readily come to mind include the Jamaica Institute of Environmental Professionals (JIEP), the Forestry Department, the Rural Agricultural Development Agency (RADA), and/or the University of the West Indies (for mangroves especially). There are also resources for organic and permaculture techniques. And… if you do not feel comfortable to plant and maintain a tree yourself, consider supporting ongoing tree planting and maintenance initiatives.

Written by Allison Rangolan, Jamaica Institute of Environmental Professionals (JIEP).  This post is to “promote effective science-based environmental management” and is part of a series to commemorate JIEP’s 20th Anniversary in 2020. Connect with them on social media: Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and look out for more information and events.


For more about International Day of Forests and annual themes, see here.

The Prime Minister made the tree planting initiative announcement on September 27, 2019 as he delivered Jamaica’s Policy statement at the General Debate of the 74th session of the United Nations (UN) General Assembly (UNGA) in New York and officially launched the Programme on October 4, 2019. This Programme complements the role that Jamaica assumed in 2018 at the request of UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres: “France and Jamaica will co-chair an initiative to support a political process to “ensure that governments fulfill their pledge to mobilize US$100 billion a year by 2020 for climate action.””

The National Tree Planting Programme is complemented and bolstered by the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries (MICAF) fruit tree planting initiative which runs concurrently and was announced by the Minister of Agriculture in late 2018. The objective of this initiative is to plant 5 million fruit trees across the island.


The Importance of Coral Reefs – Value, Threats, Actions To Take

Initiatives we can support include:

  • Disposing of our garbage properly – it often ends up in the ocean, becoming harmful to the environment and to you! This includes supporting recycling activities.
  • Adhering to fisheries laws and regulations and practicing sustainable fishing
  • Reducing critical habitat destruction- e.g. clearing mangroves or seagrass beds for construction
  • Practicing sustainable and climate smart agriculture – e.g. Using more natural fertilizers and pesticides as well as conserving water
  • Ensuring industrial waste disposal and household sewage management systems are up to code, and not flowing into our oceans, rivers and streams.
  • Protection, restoration and monitoring of coral reefs


  • When in the ocean, observe corals without touching them – they are fragile
  • Support community-based businesses that give back to marine conservation
  • Discourage mangrove clearing in your communities
  • Don’t remove seagrass
  • Don’t purchase undersized or out of season seafood products- give the juveniles time to grow and let the adults have a chance to reproduce.
  • Use less plastics, Styrofoam and single use containers – they decompose extremely slowly and often end up in our oceans
  • Know where your seafood comes from and purchase responsibly
  • Refuse, Reduce, Reuse and Recycle – sometimes less is more…

Know more about the role you can play in marine conservation by learning and helping to educate others about good environmental practices – our actions on land have impacts in the oceans even if we can’t see it.

TNC is partnering with some of the world’s best coral science organizations, to try to scale up coral reef protection, restoration and monitoring efforts in the Caribbean to levels that are relevant to today’s coral crisis. The aim is to use the latest science and technology to pursue proactive coral reef restoration in the Caribbean on a scale large enough to compete with global threats like climate change. In addition, TNC is advancing protection and monitoring initiatives that help safeguard coral reefs from local stressors, like overfishing and sediment runoff, to directly benefit surrounding marine environments and the communities that depend on them.

Coral gardeners in Bluefields Bay Fish Sanctuary cleaning corals in a nursery. Photo: © Tim Calver

In Jamaica, TNC has been involved in coral restoration, sustainable fisheries, MPA establishment and capacity building initiatives.  Our work has included support for fish sanctuary wardens and community members in the Bluefields Fish Sanctuary to become coral gardeners with the ability to grow and maintain corals in nurseries.

Over the past 3 years, this initiative has resulted in over 700 coral fragments growing in nurseries and being out planted to nearby reefs.

Coral fragments. Photo: © Tim Calver

TNC Jamaica has also worked to train hundreds of Pedro Bank fishers in sustainable fishing techniques, such as measuring lobsters caught to ensure they are above the minimum legal size before retaining them for sale and encouraging spear fishers to target lionfish for the local market. The Conservancy also supported the management of the South West Cay Fish Sanctuary on the Pedro Bank (Jamaica’s only offshore sanctuary) as well as carried out capacity building of MPA staff to improve management effectiveness.

This post appears courtesy of The Nature Conservancy (TNC).  To learn about TNC’s work in Jamaica and the wider Caribbean, visit The Nature Conservancy website, on Instagram and Facebook

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