PRIME Minister Andrew Holness Tuesday sought to explain his January 9 “argument done” statement in which he reiterated that the country would not be returning to lockdown mode, regardless of the rapid spike in COVID-19 cases that the fourth wave of the virus brought about.
On Tuesday he told the House of Representatives that, “the Government has been very careful, and very strategic, planning well in advance, so there was no need for us to examine new measures.
Having looked at what was happening in other countries, looked at our own capacities, which we had planned for and built up, we had already explained to the country that we would not go back to lockdowns. That argument done.
”He rubbished criticism that the Government has given up on COVID-19 management measures.
“That is absolutely not true. All the measures, the curfew, the restrictions on gathering, the requirements to wear masks, to maintain physical distance, all remain in place. We have not tightened measures because we know that would have had significant adverse impact on our economy and the livelihoods of Jamaicans who are already struggling,” he said.
Meanwhile, the presence of the Omicron variant of the virus has now been confirmed locally, through the use of the health ministry's recently commissioned genome sequencing machine.
“All the indications were that we were experiencing an Omicron wave, but we now have definitive confirmation of this,” Holness said. He warned though that this is not the time to be complacent as persons who are unvaccinated remain at high risk.
Holness also announced that all existing prevention control measures are being extended until February 10, 2022, including the 10:00 pm nightly curfew.
He said depending on the outcomes, the current measures could be maintained, or loosened.
— Alphea Sumner