Fri | May 29, 2020

PM talks tough, as 4,500 disobey order to contact ministry - More than 4,000 persons who disobey reporting requirement face charges

Published:Saturday | April 4, 2020 | 12:18 AMPaul Clarke/Gleaner Writer

Approximately 4,500 persons who arrived in the island between March 18 and 23 and have not contacted the Ministry of Health & Wellness are to face the full brunt of the law for violating the Government’s Disaster Risk Management Act.

Of the 5,100 persons who entered the country during the stipulated period, a little more than 400 have made contact with the ministry.

The stark warning was issued by Prime Minister Andrew Holness yesterday during a press conference updating the nation on Government’s response to the pandemic.

He said the police, along with the Ministry of Health & Wellness, have already started going door-to-door to find those in contravention of the law.

“We will now, as we find people, charge them; and we will now, where required or as necessary, place them into state quarantine,” Holness said.

He said that the greatest threat right now of spreading COVID-19 were those persons who had entered the country and refused to report through the various channels provided by the ministry.

“Those persons continue to pose a public health risk and that they continue to pose an extremely high threat to the health and lives of all Jamaicans in relation to the transmission of COVID-19,” said Holness.

State quarantine

Persons who should be in quarantine at home, but have not done so for the entire 14 days will be taken into state quarantine facilities and will also be charged, the prime minister declared.

All non-compliant persons could be charged under Section 52 of the Disaster Risk Management Act for failing to comply with a direction given, or requirement imposed by an authorised officer to regulate movement within or around the island, pursuant to the Disaster Risk Management Enforcement measures Number two, Order 2020.

Violation of the Disaster Risk Management Act can result in a fine of up to a million dollars and/or imprisonment.

Further, the prime minister said that those who have not yet reported to the health ministry will be put on a watch list and a stop order placed on any travel by them. The Passport, Immigration and Citizenship Agency has been mandated to carry out this instruction.

In the meantime, it was announced that five people, including Patient one, have now recovered from COVID-19 and have been discharged from treatment centres over the last 48 hours, bringing the overall number of recovered patients to seven.

There are now 53 confirmed positive cases of the virus in Jamaica following six new additions over the last 48 hours and 484 negatives and three pending cases, a positive rate of approximately 10 per cent.

paul.clarke@gleanerjm.com