Crew member in first batch to disembark cruise ship says process went smoothlyFriday, May 22, 2020
BY MARK CUMMINGS
The crew member, who spoke on condition of anonymity, was among the first batch of Jamaicans from the vessel to set foot on home soil following the closure of the country's air and sea ports to incoming passengers on March 24 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“[It went] very well, I am happy,” the crew member told the Jamaica Observer yesterday. “The process was smooth and seamless. They did a good job.”
Her sentiments were echoed by Health and Wellness Minister Dr Christopher Tufton, who said the processing of the first batch of Jamaicans from the ship went smoothly, telling reporters at the Historic Falmouth Cruise Port, where the vessel with 2,300 crew members — consisting of the Jamaicans and other nationalities — has been docked since Tuesday, that the process was completed ahead of schedule.
“From all reports, things went smoothly,” said Dr Tufton who, along with National Security Minister Dr Horace Chang and Western Regional Health Authority Director Errol Greene, toured sections of the multimillion-dollar port and met with other stakeholders.
“I am pleased with the reports that I have had. We were able to process the 200 persons that we targeted for today [yesterday] very smoothly, I am told, and on time — within a shorter time than we have anticipated. In fact, we missed the persons [who disembarked the ship] when we got here. When we came [at about 1:00 pm], they were all dispatched and on their way to their locations,” he said.
“So they completed the process in a shorter time span than what we anticipated, which is good,” added the health and wellness minister.
The first bus with about 20 of the Jamaicans left the compound with police escort at about 10:21 am. The passengers sat towards the rear of the vehicle, a few sported broad smiles as the vehicle drove by a handful of onlookers.
During a virtual press conference from Jamaica House on Monday, Prime Minister Andrew Holness announced that approval had been granted for the ship to dock in Falmouth, with specific protocols regarding crew members' re-entry to the island.
As part of the protocols, the Jamaicans will, within the next two weeks, disembark the vessel in groups of 200 every 48 to 72 hours and be tested for the novel coronavirus, before being transported to the Grand Bahia Principe Hotel and Jewel Runaway Hotel, both in St Ann.
Yesterday's process, which started shortly before 10:00 am, was expected to be completed within four hours.
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.
Dr Tufton said he was told yesterday that individuals who disembarked the vessel have expressed satisfaction with the day's proceedings.
“The captain of the vessel and other leadership, including the hotel manager, who is a Jamaican from St James, and all the reports from those persons indicate that things went extremely smoothly and they are very grateful to the Government, and they have asked me to pass on to the prime minister and the people of Jamaica their appreciation for the way things have gone to date,” said the minister.
He added that the Jamaicans remaining on the vessel appeared to be “quite pleased about what is happening”.
“There were many waves and shouts of gratefulness, gratitude, relief maybe, from them on their balconies, and they are very content with the process as it has been announced; and even though they are not in the first batch to be dispatched, they are patiently waiting and seem happy to allow the time and the procedure to take its course,” Dr Tufton said.
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