Jamaica is closely monitoring the outbreak of respiratory illness caused by a novel (new) coronavirus (renamed COVID- 19) first identified in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China. Cases of COVID-19 are being reported in a growing number of countries internationally. To date, there is no confirmed case of COVID- 19 in Jamaica.
On 30 January 2020, the International Health Regulations Emergency Committee of the World Health Organization declared the outbreak a “Public Health Emergency of International Concern” (PHEIC).
Subsequently, on the 31 January 2020, Jamaica placed a travel restriction on all persons who have been in China in the 14 days prior to arrival in Jamaica. On the 27 February 2020, the travel restrictions were expanded to include South Korea, Iran, Singapore and Italy. Only persons who are Jamaican Nationals or non Nationals with permanent resident status or marriage exemptions will be landed. These persons will be subject to immediate quarantine for a minimum of 14 days.
Individuals returning from any of these countries who have been granted landing privileges and who show any symptom of the COVID-19 will be placed in immediate isolation. Quarantine facilities for these persons will be designated by the Ministry of Health and Wellness, and persons will be required to adhere to all restrictions, in line with provisions under the Quarantine Act. Isolation facilities are operational at public hospitals.
The Ministry of Health and Wellness, MOHW advises:
- Jamaicans to avoid unnecessary travel to any affected area/ countries with local or community transmission.
- Public Officers should not be granted permission for non essential travel to any country that has been identified in the travel restrictions.
- Jamaicans to pay attention to the standard infection prevention and control precautions, especially as it relates to viral respiratory illnesses.
- Avoid close contact with persons with cold and flu like symptoms (coughing, sneezing etc.) especially as they transit through airports;
- Maintain distance of at least 1 meter from any individual with respiratory symptoms;
- Frequently perform hand hygiene by washing hands thoroughly with soap and water or using a hand sanitizer if hands are not visibly soiled, especially after direct contact with ill persons or their environment;
- Avoid touching their faces;
- Persons with symptoms of acute respiratory infection should practice proper cough etiquette, that is, maintain distance from others, cover coughs and sneezes with disposable tissues and discard of it immediately after use, and wear a mask to decrease the spread of droplets to others.
- Travellers should monitor the WHO website for territories with cases and to avoid these areas.
- On return to Jamaica, travellers must indicate on their immigration card, all the countries visited in the previous six weeks and cooperate with the immigration officers and public health officers at the air and sea ports.
The MOHW remains vigilant in its efforts to keep the public safe from the COVID -19.