Prime Minister of Jamaica Andrew Holness yesterday expressed his disappointment after Jamaica confirmed a huge spike in COVID-19 cases.
On Tuesday, April 14, Jamaica confirmed that the country had recorded its fifth COVID-19 death and 105 positive cases of COVID-19, moving from 73 on Monday – 32 case increase. The spike is the largest that Jamaica has recorded since the first confirmed cases on the island on March 10.
Speaking at the press conference, Prime Minister Holness said that he had hoped to keep Jamaica’s cases on a linear curve. And while the majority of Jamaicans have been following the social distancing and curfew orders, a few organizations have not followed protocol and thus, put the population at risk.
At the center of the spike is a call center located in Portmore, St Catherine. Two employees at the Alorica call center in Portmore were recently confirmed to have COVID-19, promoting the closure of the location. Further tests were done to other employees and 31 were positive.
For weeks, many call center employees in Jamaica complained that their places of work were not observing the proper protocols. Holness said that investigations will be made and the government will be pursuing charging for any business that doesn’t observe proper protocol.
As a consequence of most of the new confirmed cases residing in St. Catherine, the government also took the decision to place the entire parish on lockdown for seven days. This means that only essential workers will be allowed to leave the parish for work. On specified days, Wednesday and Saturday, residents of the parish will be allowed to leave their homes to purchase essentials i.e. food and medication. Holness indicated that the lockdown could possibly be extended to 14 days.
St. Catherine is the second largest parish in Jamaica, with approximately 19% (over 500,000 residents) of Jamaica’s population residing in the parish. With a significant portion of the employees from Kingston and neighboring parishes residing in St. Catherine, it means that many businesses outside of the parish will be short-staffed or forced to closed.
A lockdown of Kingston and St. Andrew, the most populated parish in Jamaica, is likely to follow suit.