We should know where these 'missing' 4,000 passengers are

We should know where these 'missing' 4,000 passengers are


Wednesday, April 08, 2020

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I think that the Government, and in particular Prime Minister Andrew Holness and Minister of Health and Wellness Christopher Tufton, has been doing a very good job thus far in trying to contain the spread of the coronavirus and keeping our people safe during this difficult and stressful period. Let us hope and pray that very soon we will have a return to some sort of normalcy in our lives.

There is just one matter that has been puzzling me ever since it was mentioned by the prime minister, and that is the difficulty that the authorities seem to be having in locating the 4,000 or so passengers who arrived in the island as of March 14, 2020. It is puzzling, because I fail to see why this should be a problem.

Firstly, we have the manifests from all the airlines which will show the names of all passengers who arrived on and from that date. No addresses? Upon arriving all passengers are required, in order to be cleared by immigration, to complete a landing card stating name, home address, and address at which they will be staying in Jamaica. This card is entered by the immigration officer and is then taken to Customs where the card is handed to the officer there. Therefore, right off we know that the relevant information should be in the hands of both immigration as well as Customs officers.

If a few people filled in wrong addresses, surely we should have the correct addresses of maybe 3,500 or more of the arrivals.

There is also the important question: Didn't all these passengers pass through our established protocols, which include being screened by a nurse as to the possibility of them having a fever and any other visible symptoms, such as a cough? If they were screened, and if the protocol is adequate, we should be able to assume that they were all reasonably free of the virus. That is what we ought to be assured of if the screening is accurate.

On the other hand, if the method of screening is inadequate, as it is known that individuals who have no symptoms can be carrying the virus, then might I suggest that before we reach to the point — hopefully soon — of reopening our ports of entry, that we ensure we have effective measures in place to properly screen passengers who are entering the island to help to guarantee that everyone coming in will not reinfect our citizens and begin the spread of the pandemic here all over again.


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