Mon | Jan 18, 2021

Did the gov’t ignore advice to tighten ‘Emancipendence’ COVID curfew?

Published:Sunday | August 23, 2020 | 12:00 AM
“Do we answer that?” muttered Chief Medical Officer Dr Jacquiline Bisasor McKenzie to the Health Minister, breaking a lengthy silence after the question was posed.

Damion Mitchell/Integration Editor

It’s the question Jamaica’s Chief Medical Officer (CMO) Dr Jaquiline Bisasor McKenzie did not answer on Sunday night: “Did you advise the government to extend the curfew hours for the ‘Emancipendence’ period?”

Bisasor McKenzie was among officials attending a press conference at which Health Minister Dr Christopher Tufton reported Jamaica’s highest daily COVID tally of 116.

“Do we answer that?” Bisasor McKenzie muttered off-mic to Tufton, breaking a lengthy silence after the question was posed.

WATCH: Bisasor McKenzie attempts to respond to question

Tufton had earlier reiterated the CMO’s pronouncement that majority of the new COVID cases were contracted over the Emancipation and Independence Day holidays.

He would eventually intervene, telling The Gleaner that the question to the CMO was unfair, saying she was being put in an uncomfortable position to reveal a discussion she would have had at the Cabinet level.

READ: Why the gov’t did not impose tighter 'Emancipendence' curfews

“Go to the next question, please” the minister asked.

The next question sought to ascertain from the minister, given people’s continued flouting of COVID rules whether the government was irresponsible to have failed to impose tighter curfews for the ‘Emancipendence’ holiday.

“The truth is, for the most part, Jamaicans have complied and have understood the importance of compliance based on the risks associated with COVID,” he said.

The minister also said the government has played a “fairly good role” in keeping the public informed so that people understand the risks associated with COVID.

According to him, it is as a consequence of this assessment that the decision was made to ease restrictions over the holiday period.

“In a sense it was reward for good behaviour,” said Tufton adding that the country could not remain in a state of indefinite restriction as personal lives and livelihoods were “taking a beating”.

The minister, however, conceded that Jamaica was today seeing the results of the decision not to tighten the holiday curfew.

“It has been a calculated risk but there are risks involved in risk-taking and the consequences are being addressed as we speak,” he said.

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