Wed | May 27, 2020

Letter of the Day | The ‘missing’ 4,000+ passengers

Published:Wednesday | April 8, 2020 | 12:16 AM


I think that the Government and, in particular, the prime minister and health minister have been doing a very good job thus far in trying to contain the spread of the coronavirus and keeping our people safe during this difficult and stressful period. Let us hope and pray that very soon we will have a return to some sort of normality so that everyone can return to living a normal life.

There is just one matter that has been puzzling me ever since it was mentioned by PM Andrew Holness, and that is the difficulty that the authorities seem to be having in locating the 4,000 or so passengers who arrived in the island as of March 18. It is puzzling because I fail to see why this should be a problem.

First, we have the manifests from all the airlines which will show the names of all passengers who arrived on and from that date. No addresses? Upon arriving, all passengers are required (in order to clear immigration) to complete an immigration card stating name, home address, and address at which they will be staying in Jamaica. This card is entered by the immigration officer and is then taken to customs where it is handed to the customs officer.

Therefore, right off, we know that the relevant information should be in the hands of both immigration as well as customs. If a few people filled in wrong addresses, surely we should have the correct addresses of maybe 3,500 or more persons.


There is also the important question: didn’t all these passengers pass through quarantine and under our protocol should have been screened by a quarantine nurse as to the possibility of them having a fever and any other visible symptoms, such as a cough?

If they were screened, then if the protocol is adequate, we should be able to assume that they were all reasonably free of the virus. Or that is what we ought to be assured of if the screening is accurate.

On the other hand, if the method of screening is not adequate, as it is known that persons who have no symptoms can be carrying the virus, then might I suggest that, in the future, before we reach to the point – hopefully soon – of reopening our ports of entry, that we ensure that we have effective measures in place to properly screen passengers who are entering the island to ensure that everyone coming in will not reinfect our citizens and begin the pandemic here all over again.