Last COVID-19 warning!

News

Last COVID-19 warning!

People who arrived in island before shutdown could be fined $1-m

BY CHARMAINE N CLARKE
Managing editor
clarkec@jamaicaobserver.com

Saturday, April 04, 2020

Print this page Email A Friend!


PRIME Minister Andrew Holness yesterday announced that people who arrived in Jamaica after March 18 and have failed to register with the health ministry, despite repeated requests, are in breach of the law and will be charged when found as Government steps up measures to contain spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19)

They will be slapped with a fine upwards of $1 million and placed in State quarantine, if needed. Those who cannot be found will be blacklisted with immigration authorities to prevent them from leaving the country.

“There are those who might say they can't find me… Well, we may not be able to find you, but you will not be able to leave the island, and we will tighten our dragnet to find you,” the prime minister said during a digital press conference from Jamaica House. He added that by tomorrow there should be a final list of all the people who have failed to report to the health authorities as required under Section 52 of the Disaster Risk Management Act.

The Government has been combing through the data available to determine how many of those people pose a potential health risk. March 18 to 23 has been identified by the health ministry as the time when most of those who have now tested positive for the pneumonia-like disease that has killed thousands globally entered the country.

According to Minister of National Security Dr Horace Chang, the authorities began with more than 7,000 passengers and are confident that 1,600 of the group later left the island; approximately 300 participants of the Ministry of Labour's hospitality programme had been accounted for; another 400 had responded to earlier requests to self-identify through the health ministry's website; and “a few hundred” others had done so since the night curfew began on April 1.

Ongoing efforts by the police and health officials will be stepped up as part of a last-ditch effort to identify these airline passengers before the Government resorts to publishing their names. For almost a week the Administration has been examining the legalities surrounding the publication of the list in an attempt to stave off any challenge that they may be violating the rights of individuals.

“When you have an emergency you have to weigh public good versus private… I don't think there is anybody who would object to it. But, of course, there would be the persons who would seek to challenge it,” Chang told the Jamaica Observer earlier this week ahead of one of the many meetings to chart the way forward.

One suggested approach, he said then, would be to invite the named individuals to come in for screening. “That we have the right to do, because that would be clearly protecting not only the individuals, but the public, from what is a major disaster. That's almost like preventative detention of a man who is about to murder somebody, which we have the right to do,” he said. “So our job is to find those people and inform them of their potential damage and protect both them and their communities, and their families,” Chang said.


Now you can read the Jamaica Observer ePaper anytime, anywhere. The Jamaica Observer ePaper is available to you at home or at work, and is the same edition as the printed copy available at http://bit.ly/epaperlive


ADVERTISEMENT




POST A COMMENT

HOUSE RULES

1. We welcome reader comments on the top stories of the day. Some comments may be republished on the website or in the newspaper � email addresses will not be published.

2. Please understand that comments are moderated and it is not always possible to publish all that have been submitted. We will, however, try to publish comments that are representative of all received.

3. We ask that comments are civil and free of libellous or hateful material. Also please stick to the topic under discussion.

4. Please do not write in block capitals since this makes your comment hard to read.

5. Please don't use the comments to advertise. However, our advertising department can be more than accommodating if emailed: advertising@jamaicaobserver.com.

6. If readers wish to report offensive comments, suggest a correction or share a story then please email: community@jamaicaobserver.com.

7. Lastly, read our Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy



comments powered by Disqus
ADVERTISEMENT

Poll

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT

Today's Cartoon

Click image to view full size editorial cartoon
ADVERTISEMENT