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.

Therefore:

  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.

SEAPORT READINESS

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.

QUARANTINE & ISOLATION UPDATE

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.

NATIONAL COORDINATING COMMITTEE

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.