Jamaica closes schools after confirmed cases of Coronavirus


By Ravin Singh in Jamaica

Jamaica’s Prime Minister Andrew Holness has announced a closure of all schools for 10 days following two confirmed cases of Coronavirus (COVID-19) which sent the island into a frenzy on Wednesday.

PM Holness made the announcement on Twitter on Thursday after a series of consultations and discussions which followed the confirmation of the two reported cases.

“As of….Friday March 13, 2020, schools will officially be closed for 14 days. This decision will be reviewed in 10 days,” the PM tweeted.

The announcement solicited comments of support, with some Jamaicans lauding the promptness in providing reactionary measures to protect citizens, particularly children.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has identified children and the elderly as two groups which are highly vulnerable to the virus. Globally 127,863 persons have been infected with COVID-19 which the death toll is over 4,000, according to The Guardian.

On Wednesday, Jamaica’s Health Minister Dr Christopher Tufton confirmed the second case which was a female employee of the US Embassy located in Kingston – one of the most populated areas in Jamaica.

The first case, which was confirmed on Tuesday was also a woman. Both women had travelled from the UK on March 4, but it was not until March 9 that the first case was detected after the victim reported to the hospital.

Both women entered the country through the Norman Manley International Airport (NMIA) in Kingston, which processes in excess of 125,000 passengers monthly.

Since the announcement of the first case, the Northern Caribbean University which is located in the parish of Manchester has since decided to offer online classes.

The University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona which is home to some 20 Guyanese students has set up a task force and a Campus Emergency Committee to activate its action plan. However, no decision has been made on whether classes will continue as normal or be suspended.

On the part of the Government, several measures have been taken to reduce the risk of the virus being spread.

Among those measures are: the dispatch of a health team to the home of the patient for assessment and initiation of public health measures; the identification and contact tracing for all possible exposed persons; and a meeting of Ministry officials with members of staff at the hospital and the necessary interventions put in place.

Meanwhile, the University of Guyana announced on Wednesday that classes will be suspended until March 20.

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