KINGSTON, Jamaica, Friday March 20, 2020 – The Government has issued a community quarantine order on the heels of the country’s first death from the Coronavirus (COVID-19) and the refusal by the victim’s family to quarantine themselves.
The imposition of the order for the Corn Piece settlement in the southern parish of Clarendon was announced by Prime Minister Andrew Holness in Parliament yesterday, a day after a 76-year-old man who travelled from New York died from COVID-19.
He said that since the elderly man’s death, which came the same day he tested positive, members of his family who reside in Corn Piece have refused to comply with the requests of the public health team on the ground to remain at home.
“These persons would have been exposed to a symptomatic person and have a high risk for infection…. The persons so exposed may be incubating the virus,” the Prime Minister said, explaining the justification for the quarantine.
“At this time, we are unsure of the number of persons in the community who have been so exposed and require that the community and the family comply with the quarantine order to conduct the necessary contact tracing and investigations.”
Holness, who expressed his sympathy for the family of the deceased man, was quick to add that the quarantine was not a “sentence”.
“We are not sentencing anybody. We are not taking away your liberty. You are not going to be abused. This is for your own benefit. The Jamaican state cannot take any risks with this disease,” he said.
The quarantine will be in effect for 14 days.
During that time, the Prime Minister said, the public health investigations will be completed, even as residents are monitored closely for any signs of COVID-19. He said early detection of symptoms will allow for early isolation and prevention of the transmission of the virus.
The community quarantine is the second one to be imposed since COVID-19 surfaced in Jamaica, following the first in Seven and Eight Miles, Bull Bay in St Andrew in the southeast of the island.
Jamaica has confirmed 16 COVID-19 cases. Of those, 11 are imported cases while the other five were people who were in contact with the first case that was detected.
There are also 39 persons currently in isolation at hospitals across the island – 25 of them being Government quarantine facilities. Another 99 people are in home quarantine.
Contact tracing is underway for all cases while 577 contacts are being followed.