A national lockdown is not off the table for Jamaica as the island continues to battle a COVID-19 crisis.
On Sunday, the island saw a massive jump in numbers, with almost 900 new cases of the virus. The ministry of health and wellness also noted that hospitalizations are on the rise, and several health facilities are now overflowing with patients.
At a press conference on Monday, March 8, Prime Minister Andrew Holness said that if cases continue to rise, the death rate would also rise.
He also warned Jamaicans of stricter measures to come if the positivity rate does not decrease.
“I don’t like to call down the worst but if we do not get these numbers down, it is likely that the mortality rate could also rise,” he said.
“I wish to prepare the Jamaican people that if the numbers do not improve, there are other measures that we will put in place. These measures will have an impact on the economy. It will have an even greater impact on your ability to move and gather,” Prime Minister Holness warned.
The island’s current COVID-19 restrictions, which include an 8 PM curfew, a ban on burials and the closure of public beaches, all expire on March 22.
According to the Prime Minister, it is then that Jamaicans will see even harsher restrictions if the cases have not lessened by the end of that period.
“The government has always acted in a situationally-appropriate way. So where we are now, the measures that we have put in place, we have given three weeks for them to work. If they don’t work, then there would be more measures to come. I’m being upfront with the nation to say, as I’ve always said, that a lockdown is not off the books. We’ve never been this close to it, but we are very close to it now,” Holness said.
The Prime Minister said that the government has done all it can to balance the economy and the public health crisis. Holness said now the focus has shifted to saving lives.