KINGSTON, Jamaica – The 24-hour curfew imposed on St. Catherine after a cluster of COVID-19 cases at a call centre in the southeastern parish was lifted on Friday, even as residents were cautioned they were still required to operate within the islandwide curfew.
The lockdown was lifted on the same day health authorities reported that the island had recorded its eighth COVID-19 death – a 63-year-old woman from the parish who was the contact of another confirmed case.
A two-week 24-hour curfew began on April 15 and was to end on April 29, but was extended for an additional three days to give more time for testing and interviewing of about 300 more people in the parish.
St. Catherine residents are now no longer restricted in movement, but have been advised to revert to the general measures under the Disaster Risk Management Act.
These measures include: observing the islandwide 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew, wearing masks in public; social distancing; staying at home if over the age of 65; and working from home for non-essential services.
Shortly after a worker at the Alorica Jamaica call centre in Portmore, St. Catherine tested positive for COVID-19, subsequent cases emerged that quickly drove up the number of confirmed cases in the country.
Minister of Health and Wellness, Dr. Christopher Tufton described St. Catherine as “ground zero” in terms of the current spread of the virus, primarily because of the workplace cluster, which now accounts for 203 of the 422 confirmed cases in the country.
More than 40 contacts of the call centre workers were diagnosed with the virus.
In an update on the COVID-19 situation in Jamaica, the Ministry of Health and Wellness’ National Surveillance Unit reported 432positive cases as of Friday. The ages of all COVID-19 patients range from two months to 87 years.
So far, a total of 4,779 tests have been conducted at the National Influenza Centre and the National Public Health Laboratory.
There are now 446 persons in isolation and 88 in quarantine at a Government facility, while 31 patients have recovered and have been released from hospital.