Other stranded J'can ship workers to know fate next week

Other stranded J'can ship workers to know fate next week

Saturday, May 23, 2020

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FALMOUTH, Trelawny — Security Minister Dr Horace Chang says Prime Minister Andrew Holness is to give a timetable on Monday when other Jamaican ship workers are to be brought back home.

Speaking at a press conference at the Falmouth Cruise Ship Pier in Trelawny on Thursday, Dr Chang said a schedule is currently being worked on for the safe return of the crew members.

“There are about nine cruise lines to come in, including three big ones — Disney, Carnival and there is Norwegian Caribbean Cruise Line. I don't want to give a final timeline as we make a collective decision in all of this [because] it is a very sensitive issue. The prime minister will be able to announce the decision on all of them as we will be bringing the Jamaican on the ships home as early as possible,” Dr Chang assured.

On May 6, 43 Jamaican crew members aboard the Marella Discovery 2 cruise ship, who for more than a month came close to home but were unable to set foot on local soil, arrived in the island from the United Kingdom under the Government's controlled re-entry programme.

And on Tuesday, as part of efforts by the Government to bring home Jamaican ship workers, 1,044 more of them arrived at the Falmouth Cruise Ship Pier on the Caribbean Cruise Line's Adventure of the Seas vessel.

The Jamaicans were still being processed up to yesterday.

As part of the procedure, those who return a positive test for the novel coronavirus will be placed in Government quarantine facilities, while those whose test results return negative will be allowed to self-quarantine at home, but will be monitored using geofencing technology through the Government's Jamcovid19 app.

Roughly 1,000 more Jamaican ship workers have expressed an interest in returning home.

Additionally, there are more than 8,000 Jamaicans across the globe who have also expressed a desire to return home.

Thousands of Jamaicans became stranded overseas when the country's air and sea ports were ordered closed to incoming passenger traffic on March 24 amid measures to curtail the spread of the novel coronavirus, which has up to Thursday infected 534 people locally, with nine deaths and 181 recoveries.

On Thursday, Dr Chang argued that while the Government wants to bring home the workers, care must be taken not to overwhelm the island's health care system.

“While we move to bring in everybody we have to be careful that we don't restart the process of overwhelming the Ministry of Health. The ministry's staff members have extended themselves, but if we get any form of spiking it would cause problems,” Dr Chang argued.

“... When we make decisions you may not agree sometimes, but we make those decisions purely on the basis of keeping this disease under control and giving the Ministry of Health the room in which the team can operate efficiently and well, and that is the basis of all of our decisions.”


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