Wed | Nov 14, 2018

Screen all foreigners

Published:Saturday | November 1, 2014 | 12:00 AM

Screen all foreigners


The Government must be commended for the firm action taken in restricting entry to Jamaica by persons who have recently travelled to the three badly Ebola-affected countries in West Africa.

The fact that there was no temperature check of the two visitors from the United States who entered the island through Sangster International was most unfortunate. An inspection of their passports would have shown that one or both persons had recently been in Liberia, and although there were no visible signs of either person being ill, their temperatures should have been taken.

No immigration officer is qualified to look at a person and think that he or she looks disease-free. Trained doctors cannot do this, so how can an immigration officer be expected to be so qualified?

As the minister of health said in an interview earlier in the week, temperatures were taken in the past using regular thermometers long before the new high-tech instruments were invented. This was a clear lapse on the part of someone at Sangster, and the result could have been devastating. Prompt action taken by

officials of the health ministry averted this and led to prompt and correct action being taken.

John Hill, a writer in The Gleaner, has questioned whether it is the intention of the Government to allow travellers from the US to enter Jamaica without proper screening. Clearly, this could not be the intention of the authorities. EVERY person entering the island must be properly screened, whether that person is from the United States, the United Kingdom, or wherever.

more caution

The important point is not where the traveller is coming from on their day of arrival here, but which countries they might have visited during the past 30 days. This is a routine question on immigration cards, but we can no longer depend on the honesty and truthfulness of everyone. It takes just one person to give false information and the irreparable damage will have been done.

The immigration officers at all our ports of entry must carefully examine the passports of every arriving passenger and deport persons who have visited any of the three major Ebola-affected countries.

This is not chik-V. We are dealing with a disease that kills up to 70 per cent of those afflicted with it.