KINGSTON, Jamaica – Chief Medical Officer (CMO), Dr. Jacquiline Bisasor-McKenzie, is encouraging citizens to report persons who have returned to the island and are not complying with the quarantine orders.
The CMO, who was speaking at the Ministry of Health and Wellness’ weekly virtual COVID Conversations press briefing, held recently, said that everyone is “duty-bound” to report when a returnee breaches quarantine or becomes ill.
“People in the community must monitor persons that they know have returned from travels, persons in the business place must monitor if they know that somebody has come in and is there in their office. They have a duty to say to the person, ‘you need to stay home’.
Persons have a duty to stay home and you also have a duty to report it,” she said.
All Jamaicans who have returned to the island, will undergo health screening on arrival and if determined to be high-risk, will be required to do a COVID-19 test at a local health centre.
Bisasor-McKenzie noted that all returning Jamaicans, whether they are high- or low-risk, are given a 14-day quarantine order and are required to contact the health authority immediately, if they develop a fever or any respiratory symptoms during the 14- day period.
Persons, who return a positive test, will be required to isolate, while those who test negative will remain in quarantine until the 14-day period has ended.
“A negative test can become positive a day or two days later, so you must monitor yourself, and everybody in the family must monitor the person who has returned.”
Bisasor-McKenzie emphasised that it is an offence for any individual to leave their home within the 14-day period once they have been placed under a quarantine order.
“If we are going to keep Jamaica safe from COVID-19 and keep the number of cases below the numbers that our health system can manage, then every single soul has a responsibility to report as soon as somebody becomes sick and to ensure that all the persons who are returning from travel stay at home for the designated-period,” she said.
In the meantime, Dr. Bisasor-McKenzie pointed out that Jamaica is now moving away from testing all incoming passengers and will only be testing those who are deemed to be high-risk.
“It is not that there is no risk, because everyone that has come from a country where there is the transmission of COVID-19 presents a risk,” she said, noting that what is most important is the monitoring during the 14 days that could be an incubation period for the disease.
“At any time during those 14 days, even if you have done a test or if you are waiting on a result, you can develop symptoms. We have seen in the past few days, weeks, where we’ve had persons who have had a test and have developed symptoms within a 24 to 48-hour period and have not reported it, and during that period of time, when they should have been in quarantine, would have infected other members of their household,” Dr. Bisasor-McKenzie said.
“At any point in time, if you develop symptoms, you are asked to report it so that you can protect your family members,” the CMO added.
She noted that elderly family members and those with chronic diseases could have poor outcomes if they become infected with COVID-19.