Pastor Breaks Quarantine Rule Results Major COVID-19 Outbreak in Church Community

The outbreak of COVID-19 in two communities has been linked to the actions of members of religious organisations who failed to observe protocols that have been established for the control of the serious respiratory illness.

In one case, a pastor returned from overseas, and instead of going into quarantine at home for 14 days, reportedly went straight to church, resulting in the transmission of the novel coronavirus to several members of the congregation.

The other case involved a sick person who travelled from St Catherine to St Thomas, going to church there to seek prayer for his illness. That also resulted in local transmission of the disease.

Both cases have resulted in the Government placing communities in Clarendon and St Thomas under quarantine for the next 14 days.

Sandy Bay in Clarendon, as well as Bamboo River, Church Corner and Summit in St Thomas, have all been placed under quarantine.

"The irresponsible behaviour of a few has created a significant dilemma for the government," Prime Minister Andrew Holness yesterday remarked.

Jamaica yesterday recorded 30 new positive cases of COVID-19, the most in a single day, bringing the tally to 958. Twenty-eight cases of the virus have been detected in St Thomas over the past four days.

Holness said that the Government would be tightening the COVID control measures, which will impact the opening of beaches and rivers, the entertainment industry and funerals.

However, he has all but ruled out the closure of the airports. He said that persons entering the islands will be required to be quarantined. Churches will now be banned from having conventions and conferences.

He also said that it is time that the police start prosecuting persons who are found to be in breach of the orders.