Reggae music festivals, outdoor life, and mass gatherings could be placed on hold with a country under COVID-19 medical emergency for the next three to five months, Health and Wellness Minister Dr. Christopher Tufton believes.
With some 10 confirmed-cases of the novel coronavirus and the health ministry now tracking between 200 and 300 persons who may have come in contact with the patients, on Friday, Prime Minister Andrew Holness declared Jamaica a disaster area under the Disaster Risk Management Act Declaration of Disaster Area Order 2020.
Communities in Seven Miles and Eight Miles, Bull Bay, bordering St Andrew and St Thomas, have now been quarantined to contain the spread of COVID-19. Patient Zero, a Jamaican visiting from the United Kingdom, who tested positive for the respiratory virus, stayed there for a while.
“How we as a country survives this depends on how the citizens respond to the measures that are being implemented.
So you may be in this thing for the next three to five months between the peak and the downward trend. But if we are not adhering as a country to the measures, then the effects of that will be a longer period.”
The global threat of COVID-19 has led to several restrictions, shutdowns and cancellations in a move to curtail mass gatherings and reduce the further spreading of the disease that so far has infected more than 145,000 persons and killed over 5,400 worldwide.
Locally, several landmark activities have been canceled or postponed, businesses closed, and all schools shut down for the next 14 days.
In fact, there are doubts about this year’s staging of the annual Independence events slated for August.
Bisasor-McKenzie said the next eight to 11 weeks will be critical.
“From the start of global transmission, we expect the peak week to be in the eighth week. That is the projection that we are looking at. But, of course, as information comes in, we do expect to have changes,” Bisasor-McKenzie told the forum.
Without adherence to strict sanitary protocols, both personally and at public and private institutions, the timeframe could increase, she noted.