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Figueroa warns of party COVID spike

Published:Friday | September 4, 2020 | 7:31 AMChristopher Serju/Senior Gleaner Writer
Scores of political supporters threw caution to the wind as they danced in the street on Olympic Way in the vicinity of the Olympic Gardens Civic Centre in St Andrew yesterday.
Photo: Scores of political supporters threw caution to the wind as they danced in the street on Olympic Way in the vicinity of the Olympic Gardens Civic Centre in St Andrew yesterday.

Professor Peter Figueroa, one of Jamaica’s leading epidemiologists, has warned that participants at an impromptu party at Olympic Way in the St Andrew West Central constituency represented by Prime Minister Andrew may have put themselves and others at serious risk of contracting the coronavirus.

The celebrations were in support of Prime Minister Andrew Holness, who was challenged at the polls by Patrick Roberts for a fifth time.

Professor Figueroa said that he had heard reports of the partying, pictures of which were carried by The Gleaner online.

“There is nothing wrong with celebration and socialising, but in these times now, given the fact that we are having community spread of COVID in which there are persons who are symptomatic and have it, but there are also persons who do not have symptoms, and, therefore, you can’t tell who has COVID and who doesn’t have COVID, the risk is great,” he said.

“It is worse if they are indoors, where there is not enough circulation of air. If they are outdoors, hopefully, there is enough fresh air, but if people are all crowded together and close and many are not wearing masks, then even if they are outdoors, it means there is going to be spread of COVID, and we will get more cases. The more cases of COVID we get, it means we are going to have serious cases, and we’ll get more people dying,” he warned.

For this reason, Figueroa insisted that whether people were jubilant or trying to console themselves, once there is any kind of public meeting, they need to wear masks, physical-distance, sanitise, wash hands, and, preferably, stay in small gatherings and avoid crowds.

“Just look what happened at several recent parties, where a number of noticeable personalities got infected. Let’s learn from it and try and follow the protocol,” he urged.

Jamaica has seen a surge in coronavirus cases in recent weeks.

christopher.serju@gleanerjm.com