Twenty of the passengers who arrived in Jamaica from the United Kingdom on Monday have tested positive for COVID-19.
The Jamaican government had announced a UK travel ban on December 21 but allowed the British Airways flight to land since it had already departed when the ban was announced.
A video posted to social media showed some passengers on the flight reacting furiously after being told mid-flight that they would have to quarantine in a state facility for 48 hours.
When the flight landed in Kingston, the 301 passengers on the flight were immediately transported to the facility in St. Ann, where they were tested. On Wednesday, the Ministry of Health and Wellness announced that there were 20 positives.
“These persons will now be placed in state isolation, along with four of their close contacts (family members that came to greet them at the airport) and monitored until they are recovered. Additionally, the 20 positive samples will be sent to the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) for genetic assessment to determine if they are of the variant strain of COVID-19,” the ministry said in a news release Wednesday.
The results for two passengers are still pending while some 267 travelers (excluding the four close contacts), who have tested negative for COVID-19, will later Wednesday be transferred from state to home quarantine, the ministry added, noting the persons being sent into home quarantine will be fitted with armbands and be closely monitored by the parish health team and the Jamaica Constabulary Force over the duration of the 14-day quarantine.
Jamaica on Monday joined a growing list of countries to have issued a travel ban against the United Kingdom following growing concerns over a fast-spreading new strain of COVID-19 in the country. Experts say the new strain of the coronavirus is transmitted up to 70 times more easily than the regular circulating strain.
Previously, Jamaica had not issued a COVID-19 test requirement for visitors from the UK. Visit Jamaica outlines that only visitors from the United States of America (USA), Brazil, Dominican Republic, Mexico and Panama are required to present a negative COVID-19 test result before they check in for a flight.