On Tuesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced that all US incoming passengers would be required to present a negative COVID-19 test before boarding their flight.
The new measures state that all air passengers must get a viral test three days before their flight and provide proof of the test results.
The new protocol will affect the travels of Jamaican-Americans who will now have to get tested before arriving in Jamaica and before they go back to the US.
Senior Strategist in the Tourism Ministry, Delano Seivright says the measure could only impact the local tourism sector but the island’s health ministry as well.
“We note with concern that the U.S. insisting persons getting tested before boarding a flight. We are in no way surprised, nevertheless, the Ministry of Tourism and the Ministry of Health have been in constant communication on this and other issues. Our private labs have been in touch regarding ramping up testing because that’s a major challenge right now,” he said while on a local radio program.
As other major countries like Canada have also implemented the testing requirement for travelers, Jamaica’s health ministry has come under additional pressure.
Dr. Christopher Tufton, the minister of health and wellness, addressed why there are very few private labs in Jamaica that provide COVID-19 testing.
“It is not that we haven’t tried to expand PCR testing. There are only two labs that offer it currently because those are the only two on the island that have applied. So it’s not like we have a lot of takers or a lot of offers by private labs wanting to offer PRC testing. We do have a lot more labs providing antigen testing. There are about eight such labs,” Tufton said. The minister said the government was looking to expand testing through private labs in the coming weeks to meet the demand.
Entities like Sandals Resorts also announced that they would be offered testing to visitors at the Sandals and Beaches Resorts until March 31. Sandals said that the tests will be done at least 72 hours before a guest’s departure and be available within 24 to 48 hours.
In the meantime, the CDC says its new protocol is consistent with the current phase of the pandemic and more efficiently protects Americans. The new order will come into effect on January 26.