Minister of Health and Wellness, Dr. Christopher Tufton, has advised that Jamaica will continue to quarantine international travellers.
He made the disclosure at the weekly virtual COVID Conversations press briefing on Thursday, November 19.
The Ministry’s move is in spite of the new Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) recommendation that quarantine, sampling, and isolation of international travelers is no longer necessary.
Dr. Tufton, however, pointed out that factors such as the high reproductive rate of two to 2.5, the incubation period of four to 14 days and the lack of symptoms in some infected persons, as well as the high mortality rate and unavailability of an approved vaccine, have “deemed it necessary for all measures to be taken in response to the virus.
“A comprehensive response strategy is, therefore, a must. This includes case management with identification, isolation, testing and clinical care for all cases, infection prevention and control measures, and contact management that incudes tracing as well as quarantine,” he noted.
He indicated that Jamaica will be in a position to abandon the requirements for overseas travelers if it is guaranteed that the countries from where the visitors come had a built-in screening system, that prevents infected residents or those who are suspected of having the virus from traveling.
“But the conclusion, based on the numbers, based on where we are with countries we interact with, is that there’s no guarantee those jurisdictions have those foolproof measures. Therefore, we have to manage our internal dynamics to minimize the risks that this highly contagious virus poses,” he stressed.
Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Jacquiline Bisasor-McKenzie, said “it is very important at this time, with the numbers spiking in all the countries around us, that we ensure we abide with the restrictions we have in place”.
She noted, however, that “we are eventually going to reach a point where we are going to abandon quarantine and get back to life…and gradually, over time, you are going to see recommendations that will take us there”.