Returning residents flouting COVID-19 protocols in Trelawny

Returning residents flouting COVID-19 protocols in Trelawny

Staff reporter

Friday, July 10, 2020

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FALMOUTH, Trelawny — Dr Diahann Dale, medical officer of health at the Trelawny Health Department, says since Jamaica reopened its border, the police and health officials have been kept busy foiling attempts by people determined to attend funerals shortly after arrival.

“We have had to actively, with the police, prevent people [returning residents] from going to funerals because they decide to be defiant of the orders and are very explicit to the public health officers and the police officers of their intent,” Dale revealed.

“We are making observations that there are some of our residents returning from the United States of America — which is currently a very high-risk area by virtue of the upturn of COVID-19 infection outbreaks in that setting — and they return to our shores today with a view to go to a funeral tomorrow or the day after. It is important that we all acknowledge that, if such is allowed, risk for widespread community outbreak will be significant,” she said.

The Ministry of Health and Wellness has mandated that individuals who have returned home or are visiting the island, should remain in quarantine for 14 days to guard against the spread of COVID-19.

Dr Dale, who argued that some people were behaving as if the danger of spreading the virus has been averted, was prompted to remind residents that since the reopening of the borders there has been a spike in imported cases of COVID-19.

“We must acknowledge that with the opening of the country's border, as you would have been seeing from the press releases from the Ministry of Health and Wellness on a daily basis, we are having growing numbers of imported cases of COVID-19, and so risk of infection has actually heightened. So it is important that we continue to practise and encourage others to practise the infection, prevention and control measures that we have been communicating for the longest while, to include the wearing of masks,” she urged.

She was speaking yesterday at the monthly meeting of the Trelawny Municipal Corporation in Falmouth.

The medical officer of health noted that health officials are not only making a concerted effort, with the support of the Jamaica Constabulary Force, to ensure that individuals conform to the quarantine measures, but also to zero in on mass gatherings, noticeably on the up at grave-digging exercises.

“Of course, the mass gatherings, whether it is grave digging, which is bigger these days than anything else, is another concern that we continue to monitor and work with the police to help to dispel such gatherings when they are observed. So it is important because some of these things we would have been doing for a few months, but at this time they are even more important and so it is not a time for us to be complacent and to fall off in terms of ensuring the adoption to some of these measures,” Dr Dale said.

She expressed that the health department “will be working more closely as well with the pastors, officiating ministers who will be working with families for such events, to ensure that consideration is given even as they plan with families for the hosting of such events”.

“I know many of us are parts of church families, many of us participate in the funeral services in our communities. It is important that your support be lent to urging community members to be mindful of the threat posed if we are not paying enough attention to the quarantine measures that are ordered by law. The same way mask wearing is mandated by law in public spaces, yes, the quarantine measures are by law,” Dale insisted.

“So, I just pause to urge us to support the effort to have persons maintaining quarantine measures. Persons have opportunities to decide to come home and make plans even for funeral arrangements and all of that, making allowance for the quarantine period,” she continued.

She also implored members of the local authorities to lead from the front, by adhering to the COVID-19 safety protocols.

For his part, chairman of the Trelawny Municipal Corporation, Councillor C Junior Gager, thanked the Ministry of Health and other stakeholders for their efforts against the COVID-19 spread.

Up to July 8, there were 751 COVID-19 cases confirmed in Jamaica, five of which were recorded in the parish of Trelawny.

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