A tighter curfew took effect here on Wednesday and will remain in place until February 24, as one of the measures announced by Prime Minister Andrew Holness to contain the spread of COVID-19.
Addressing the House of Representatives on Tuesday, Holness said the islandwide curfew will commence at 8pm instead of 10pm and end at 5am.
In addition, the maximum size of gatherings has been reduced from 15 persons to 10 persons.
Prime Minister Holness said the country is seeing increased hospitalizations, and an islandwide hospital census has pointed to significant occupancy levels across Jamaica’s health regions.
“Currently, the Western Health Region is at 83 per cent of capacity, the Southern Region is at 76 per cent, the Northern Region is at 66 per cent and the Southeast Region at 59 per cent. Additionally, there are a number of hospitals across the island that are at or above 90 per cent occupancy level and this includes the May Pen Hospital, Kingston Public Hospital and Spanish Town Hospital,” he said.
“What we are seeing here, having interrogated this data, is that there is need for a greater sense of urgency, both on the part of the government in our response, but more so on the part of the citizens. You have to take greater personal responsibility.”
Holness also addressed questions about whether the spread of COVID-19 in Jamaica was related to new variants of the virus.
“The Ministry of Health and Wellness has advised that as part of their surveillance activities on new variants, they have sent off for genome sequencing, 14 positive samples from travellers from the United Kingdom and, later this week, plan to send off another 101 samples randomly selected by parish,” he informed, adding that the results from genome sequencing “will give us better insights into how prevalent the new variants if they exist, maybe in Jamaica”.
Based on information received from the Ministry of Health and Wellness, as of Monday, Jamaica recorded 17,701 cumulative cases of COVID-19. Some 359 people have died due to the virus, representing a two per cent fatality rate currently.
The number of people who still have the virus is 4,793.