Wed | Jan 20, 2021

COVID curfew crackdown for Westmoreland

Published:Wednesday | December 16, 2020 | 12:29 AM
A healthcare worker in Virginia prepares the first locally available dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at Mary Washington Hospital in Fredericksburg in the United States on Tuesday. A coronavirus vaccine will be rolled out in Jamaica in April 20
A healthcare worker in Virginia prepares the first locally available dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at Mary Washington Hospital in Fredericksburg in the United States on Tuesday. A coronavirus vaccine will be rolled out in Jamaica in April 2021.

A tighter curfew has been imposed on Westmoreland starting Wednesday evening as the parish continues to be plagued by increasing cases of COVID-19, surging hospitalisation, and spike in deaths as a result of the highly contagious virus.

The curfew starts at 7 p.m. to 5 a.m. until December 31.

General gathering limit in public places has been reduced from 15 to 10, and Grand Market has been cancelled in both Westmoreland and Hanover.

To date, the parish has recorded 117 active cases, 76 of which were identified last week.

Jamaica has now recorded 11,875 cases, with 3,234 active.

In a statement to the House of Representatives, Prime Minister Andrew Holness, who expressed concern about the spike in the parish, said the virus had spread to about 80 per cent of the communities in Westmoreland.

The parish recorded a positivity rate of 32.1 per cent last week compared to 17.6 per cent the week before.

“This means that one out of every three persons tested was positive for the coronavirus,” the prime minister said, adding that this was more than three times the national positivity rate of 9.3 per cent.

It was disclosed that the Savanna-la-Mar Hospital in Westmoreland was at 87 per cent of capacity on Monday, with 15 of 18 COVID beds occupied and the facility reporting 18 to 20 persons in the emergency department waiting on beds.

Between 80 and 90 per cent of beds are occupied at the Cornwall Regional and the Noel Holmes hospitals in St James and the Falmouth Hospital in Trelawny, respectively.

The prime minister warned that if the situation escalates in the parish, the Government was prepared to impose tighter measures.

He concedes that the measures will cause hardships and dislocation for the people of Westmoreland, but indicated that the restrictions were necessary.

Meanwhile, Holness has reiterated his willingness to take the jab when the COVID vaccine reaches Jamaica.

“This House has a duty to speak positively and definitely in support of vaccination. I will be taking the vaccine,” said Holness.

“It still remains a personal choice. We want persons to make the choice having full understanding of how it will help them.”

Responding to a concern from Opposition Leader Mark Golding about the proposed 16 per cent of the population to be vaccinated in 2021, the prime minister said that this was a conservative number.

However, he said that Health and Wellness Minister Dr Christopher Tufton would be seeking to exploit all opportunities to have a more wide-scale vaccination exercise.

edmond.campbell@gleanerjm.com