Thu | Nov 26, 2020

Repatriation flights from Antigua, Bahamas postponed; Trinidad and Barbados flights arrive today

Published:Saturday | June 13, 2020 | 12:00 AM

Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator Kamina Johnson Smith, says repatriation flights for Jamaicans in Antigua and the Bahamas have been postponed until Tuesday. 

The flights were to arrive in Jamaica on the weekend. 

In a tweet, the minister said it was postponed to give persons more time to book. 

Meanwhile, two flights from Trinidad and Barbados are to arrive today. 

During yesterday's virtual news conference she reported that 154 Jamaicans had arrived from the United Kingdom and 84 from Canada last week. There were also arrivals from the United States and the Cayman Islands.

She said the increased number of flights into the country is “really very good news” for Jamaicans, many of whom were travelling for business, vacation, school, or were on short-stay programmes.

“Some have been in the care of the honorary consuls or our missions overseas, through emergency support provided from headquarters at the ministry, or by reaching out to the Diaspora communities in those locations. So, when our urgent cases are able to return to their families, it is one of the best feelings in the world, and we are at a good place now,” she said.

Johnson Smith said Jamaicans overseas have been abiding by the COVID-19 rules, such as proper hygiene, physical distancing and the wearing of masks and urged them on their return to the island, to adhere to the measures that have been established locally, to protect themselves and their loved ones.

Johnson Smith has also lauded the teams at the airports managing the arrivals and those processing applications through the JamCOVID app, reiterating that the application procedure has been simplified and “it is now a one-stage process that takes far less time."

Risk-based testing and quarantine to vary 

Speaking at the same press briefing, Prime Minister Andrew Holness said risk-based testing and quarantine protocols will vary among three categories of travellers.

He told reporters that Jamaicans and non-nationals ordinarily resident in Jamaica will be subject to testing if assessed as high risk as a result of their travel history; exhibition of symptoms; exposure to people who have tested positive; or whether they belong to a high-risk group. He said high risk groups include cruise ship workers, involuntarily returned migrants, and health care workers. People deemed high risk will have their sample taken and they will be placed under quarantine at home or in a government facility, as determined by the health authorities.

If the samples test negative, the persons will be placed under either a ‘stay at home for returning residents’ measure, or be placed in quarantine at home for 14 days, depending on the risk. However, if the results are positive, individuals will be isolated either at home or in a government facility, as determined by the health authorities. Those not seen as high risk will be allowed to go home under the ‘stay at home for returning residents’ measure for 14 days.

Holness said non-nationals visiting Jamaica for tourism will be subject to testing if they are assessed as high-risk either as a result of arriving from countries designated as high risk for COVID-19 transmission based on classification by the World Health Organization, or due to other risk factors, such as showing symptoms or exposure to people who have tested positive.

Persons deemed as high risk will have their samples taken at the airport or other designated facility. They will wait for the test results at their hotel or resort under the ‘stay in zone’ measure. If the test is negative, they will remain under the ‘stay in zone’ measure. However, if the test is positive, they will be isolated either at the hotel or resort, or in a government facility, as determined by the health authorities.

Holness added that those not assessed as high risk will be allowed to go to their hotel/resort under the ‘stay in zone’ measure. This means they are required for the duration of their stay in Jamaica to remain within the COVID-19 resilient corridor.

-Additional reporting from CMC

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