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Lockdown not off the books, PM warns as COVID worry deepens

Published:Monday | March 8, 2021 | 8:33 PM
Holness: It is justifiable now to be more assertive in the enforcement of the protocols that are in place.

Damion Mitchell/Integration Editor

Prime Minister Andrew Holness on Monday warned there will be a national lockdown if the current COVID containment measures do not result in a slow down of infections in the next three weeks.

According to Holness, Jamaica is now at the stage of saving lives and so, he is "preparing" the country for the possibility of tighter restrictions.

"It really depends on what you do at this point in time," he said at a press conference at Jamaica House.

Holness said the government had always been considering three factors -- the number of COVID infections, the positivity rate and the number of beds.

"Now we're at that very critical trigger line, and that is the number of beds," he said.

READ: Health Minister confirms UK COVID variant in Jamaica

Almost all the beds allocated for COVID patients are now full across the island. 

At the same time, there has been open defiance of the COVID-19 containment protocols with some people challenging the authority of the security forces. 

“Your need to party and be free and go about not wearing your mask has to be balanced against the need against someone who will be deprived of care because we simply have no beds,” Holness said in a direct shot at lawbreakers. 

On Sunday, Jamaica tallied an all-time record of 878 new cases, the third consecutive day of extremely high numbers.

So far 454 persons have died as a result of the virus. 

In the meantime, Holness says the security forces have been instructed to ramp up enforcement of the COVID containment measures.

It is not the first time, the Prime Minister is making such a declaration.

Asked how satisfied was he with the enforcement of the measures since his last appeal, Holness said the government had to be very careful in how it "pushed" since there were many social issues to consider.

However, he said the public good was now threatened.

"It is justifiable now to be more assertive in the enforcement of the protocols that are in place," Holness said.

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