Jamaica has imposed a new 8 PM to 5 AM daily curfew, amid the current spike in COVID-19 cases.
Between February 4 and February 8, the island saw some 1,451 new cases of COVID-19, with over 200 cases being reported each day.
The highest single-day total of 403 cases was reported on February 8. Jamaica’s current positivity rate stands at 20.8%. In the last week of 2020, Jamaica’s positivity rate was 7%.
The island’s curfew will run from Wednesday, February 10 until February 24. The previous curfew, imposed in December, was from 10 PM to 5 AM.
Public gatherings have also been reduced from 15 to 10 people.
In making the announcement, Prime Minister Andrew Holness said that the government’s priority is making sure that the healthcare system is not overwhelmed.
“We cannot dedicate the entire capacity of our healthcare system to COVID-19 alone. There are other critical illnesses and events to which our healthcare professionals have to continue to respond,” Holness said.
He also pointed out that three of the country’s biggest hospitals, the Kingston Public Hospital, Spanish Town Hospital in St Catherine and the May Pen Hospital in Clarendon are all above 90% capacity.
Before the curfew announcement, these same sentiments were shared by the Former President of the Nurses Association of Jamaica, Carmen Johnson, who said that wards and isolation areas in hospitals across the country are now full, as hospitalizations are increasing.
The President of the Medical Association of Jamaica, Dr. Andrew Manning also stated that the healthcare system was approaching the point of over-capacity.
“In the blink of an eye, we could reach a stage where people come to the hospitals for treatment and we have nowhere to put them. We’re not far from that,” he said on Nationwide Radio on February 9.
In the meantime, the Prime Minister has warned that the police will be enforcing the curfew in a more vigorous manner. Holness urged Jamaicans to take the virus more seriously and to display a greater sense of personal responsibility.