Jamaican Health Officials Address Concerns Over New Strain of COVID-19

CNW Reporter

Jamaica CMO
Jamaica’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr Jacquiline Bisasor-McKenzie

On Monday, December 21, Jamaica imposed a two-week travel ban on the United Kingdom after a new strain of COVID-19 was detected in the country. It was later revealed that 20 of the 301 passengers on the last flight from the UK to Jamaica had tested positive for COVID-19. Since then, questions have been raised regarding how exactly the government would have allowed the passengers into the island without a negative test requirement.

Jamaica’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr Jacquiline Bisasor-McKenzie explained that the UK was not on the list of countries that required a negative test result for travel, but visitors are supposed to declare if they had recently tested positive for the virus. She said that some visitors may not have been honest.

“The application form to enter Jamaica does ask you to state whether or not you’ve recently tested positive for COVID-19. Some people may not put the correct thing down. There are so many possibilities where that is concerned, which is why we state the value of the quarantine period,” she said on a local radio program.

According to Dr Bisasor-McKenzie, most of the 301 passengers have been tested. She said that the passengers were very cooperative despite the viral video which showed them quarreling about the quarantine order.

“I must say that the passengers were very cooperative in terms of going through the process and getting tested. I know there were some reports of them quarreling on social media but the report on the ground is that they cooperated with the protocols.”

In the meantime, questions have also been raised regarding whether or not the new strain of COVID-19 is now in Jamaica.

Dr Mindi Fitz Henley, the President of the Jamaica Medical Doctors Association, says Jamaica does not yet have the technology to detect the new strain.

“We currently do not have the technology. If it is that we want to test for the new strain, we would have to send it overseas to be tested. But it is important to note that we do pick up whenever a person is COVID-positive”,” she explained.

Fitz-Henley has underscored the importance of all visitors to Jamaica to adhere to the 14-day quarantine orders.

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