Jamaica’s Minister of Health and Wellness Dr. Christopher Tufton yesterday disclosed that COVID-19 test kits and personal protective equipment ordered by the government were blocked by the United States.
Dr. Tufton revealed the development at April 15’s cabinet meeting while assuring the public that Jamaica is, not in any way, short of COVID-19 testing supplies, noting that the equivalent of 20,000 test kits would be arriving in the island by this weekend.
The health minister said that the Government has had to “re-calibrate” its strategy to get other supplies in the island.
“They [United States] have acted in their interest; we have to act in our interest. In the meantime, we have had to recalibrate our strategy in order to get from other sources, and that led to some delays,” he said.
According to the Gleaner, three items – swabs, extractors, and enzymes – were intercepted by US authorities, but only the enzymes have been handed over.
The news comes as Jamaica began to record a significant spike in its COVID-19 cases this week. In just three days, Jamaica’s cases moved from 73 (on April 13) to 143 as of April 16.
The island now joins a list of other Caribbean countries including Cayman Islands, Barbados, The Bahamas, that have accused the United States of taking medical supplies intended for their respective countries in recent weeks.
Other countries like Brazil, Canada and France, which have also been similarly affected by the United States’ recent moves, have voiced their anger at the U.S. government. Even German officials have accused the U.S. of “modern piracy” as its shipments of masks were diverted to America last month.