Statement Re: Cruise Ship Workers Being Repatriated to Jamaica

The Ministry of Health and Wellness wishes to note that as at today’s date no formal approval has been provided for any vessel to be granted permission for the disembarking of any person from cruise ships in any of the ports in Jamaica. It is important that the public notes that the request for disembarking or “pratique” is governed by procedures outlined in the Quarantine Act and the Public Health Act. These procedures are known and utilized by the Cruise Ship Industry and form part of the overall Maritime arrangements of the Government of Jamaica.

In my statements today in the media, it was outlined that the Ministry of Health and Wellness has no knowledge of a ship coming into harbour and neither do we have any information or any knowledge of any arrangement for a specific date for this action to be taken. The Ministry has been actively participating in negotiations that have been underway for the repatriation of Jamaican Crew Members and the consultations are being held to determine the safest method for this to be done. Given the state and nature of the discussions, there was no reason to believe that a ship could be on its way to Jamaica without the knowledge and consent of the Government of Jamaica.

It is to be noted that as a Government we must ensure the safety of all parties in this matter and as such we must put in place the requisite resources to enable the staff within the public health system to be able respond to all eventualities. This must be done with due consideration for the required testing; the quarantine of individuals within spaces that are suitable and which reduces the risks of cross contamination; and the clinical care of all persons who reside on the ship once they arrive in Jamaican waters.

The Government stands ready to ensure that our citizens are returned to the island and is making every effort to identify and mobilize the resources required to reduce or eliminate the risks associated with the repatriation exercise. The Government is ensuring that all support can be provided once agreement has been reached on the terms and date of arrival in accordance with the appropriate international laws and the laws of Jamaica.