Roll back curfew hours, business and health interests recommend to PM
With an uptick in COVID-19 infections and hospitalisations, business and health interests are recommending that Jamaica goes back to an earlier nightly curfew to help reduce the spread of the virus.
Prime Minister Andrew Holness will address the nation either this evening or tomorrow.
The address follows a meeting of the COVID-19 sub-committee of Cabinet on the weekend.
Occupational and Public Health Specialist, Dr Alverston Bailey, posits that the statistics suggest that Jamaica is about to enter a third wave of the virus.
“Despite our best expectations, human beings are risk-takers in the pursuit of pleasure or any goal they deemed desirable. Therefore, an authoritarian approach has to be considered in combating infectious outbreaks. We must control the actions of the carefree and reckless to protect the health and well-being of the compliant majority,” Bailey told The Gleaner.
According to him, the increase might be related to a reduction in COVID-19 vigilance as well as complacency.
Bailey suggested that the Holness administration revisit the curfew hours during the week and return to an 8 o' clock start.
Currently, the curfew runs from 11:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m. Monday to Saturday.
On Sunday, it goes from 6:00 p.m. and ends at 5:00 a.m. the next morning.
Bailey said the government should consider only permitting the staging of alcohol-free and COVID-free stage shows and parties.
“Therefore, all attendees should present a negative test before being admitted to the venue.”
Added to that, Bailey said trained COVID marshals should be posted at party venues to regulate the behaviour of patrons.
Because of Jamaica's vulnerability, he also recommended that tourists be vaccinated before booking a trip.
“I just think that the curfew needs to be rolled back to a reasonable time, maybe 8 o' clock or 9 o' clock. We seemed to have been doing quite well at that time,” said Chief Executive Officer of Manpower & Maintenance Services Limited Group, Audrey Hinchcliffe.
Hinchcliffe reasoned that the government should develop a comprehensive roadmap of how to live with the virus, even though curfews and gathering limits can remain fluid.
She also urged the government to be more aggressive with the procurement of COVID-19 vaccines.
“Until we can get the vaccines to achieve herd immunity, we will be in trouble. My biggest problem is the inadequacy of vaccines,” she said.
Up to Sunday, Jamaica had a COVID-19 death tally of 1,178, having recorded two more fatalities that day.
A further 105 new cases were recorded, increasing the total to 52,089 infections, of which 3,686 are active.
Some 147 persons are in hospital with 44 being moderately ill and 16 critically ill.
The Ministry of Health reported that the country's positivity rate now stands at 18.1 percent.
- Judana Murphy
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