Jamaica PM: No Evidence of New Pandemic Phase Here

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A woman has blood drawn for COVID-19 antibody testing. The Ministry of Health and Wellness has sent samples overseas to determine if the latest variant of the virus is in Jamaica.

PRIME Minister Andrew Holness said yesterday that while there has been a significant increase recently in the number of people testing positive for COVID-19, there is no evidence that the country has entered a new phase of the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Holness made the statement while announcing new measures which have been included in the orders under the Disaster Risk Management Act (DRMA), which regulates activities during the crisis, as follows:

Effective today, February 10, the islandwide curfew will commence at 8:00 pm instead of 10:00 pm, and end at 5:00 am the following morning, until February 24. Additionally, the gathering limit will be reduced from 15 to 10 people.

However, the prime minister conceded that he was well aware there were other issues which were still on the minds of the public.

“I know one of the questions on persons’ minds is whether the spread we are now seeing is related, in any way, to the new strains or variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus,” Holness told the House of Representatives.

He said the Ministry of Health and Wellness has advised that, as part of its surveillance activities on new variants, it has sent off for genome sequencing, 14 positive samples from travellers from the United Kingdom and, later this week, plan to send off another 101 samples randomly selected from parishes.

“The results from genome sequencing will give us better insights into how prevalent the new variants may be in Jamaica,” he told the House.


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