The Jamaica government says its policies regarding COVID-19 is not taken with tourists in mind as other Caribbean countries continue to record deaths from the virus.
“The truth is that the Government of Jamaica does not make policies to favour tourists. We make policies to favour the people of Jamaica. I want to dispel that because whilst it has not come up to the surface, in conversations and in public discourse it is there simmering somewhere in the subliminal,” Prime Minister Andrew Holness said in a statement in response to critics who have been accusing his administration of sacrificing the health of Jamaicans at the altar of the tourism sector.
Holness said that while the tourism sector must be treated as a business and the country has to get the most economic value that it can from the sector, “it is a situation that we are in as a small island state, an economy highly dependent on tourism and travel, highly dependent on our diaspora”.
He said that the Jamaican economy cannot exist without trade and travel adding that relative to many, if not most countries, Jamaica has done well in the management of the pandemic, and that comparative data dispels the false narrative that has been circulating about the Government’s management of the crisis.
Holness said that pretesting for visitors from high-risk countries would continue but that antigen test results will now be accepted alongside PCR test results. The health ministry recently announced that it is expanding testing for COVID-19 to include antigen testing, based on WHO/PAHO guidelines. The changes for visitors will take effect on October 10.
“This will make it easier for visitors, both Jamaicans coming from overseas [and] Jamaicans who live overseas, and for tourists who are visiting Jamaica, to meet the pretesting requirement as antigen tests are more readily available and are cheaper and faster than PCR tests,” Prime Minister Holness said.
Jamaica has recorded 7,012 positive cases of the virus and 120 deaths.
Belize is reporting four new deaths from the virus over the past 24 hours.
The Ministry of Health said that the total number of deaths associated with the virus is now 34 and that the four persons who died from Orange Walk District included an employee of the Belize Sugar Industries (BSI).
The total number of confirmed positive cases now stands at 2,243 with 817 being active.
The Ministry of Health in the Bahamas said that 73 new cases were recorded over the past 24 hours pushing the total in the country to 4,632.
New Providence continues to lead the figures with 3,468, followed by Grand Bahama with 650 and 157 in Abaco and 54 in Bimini.
The Ministry of Health is also confirming the death of a 76- year old female of New Providence as well as a 44-year-old male of Abaco.
“These unfortunate deaths increase the COVID-19 death toll to 102. To date, 22,559 tests have been completed. Hospitalised cases increased by one and are now tallied at 113. Further, there were 62 recovered cases so that the total recovered cases now tally at 2, 537,” the Ministry of Health said.
Suriname is recording no persons in quarantine on Tuesday night and that of the 300 people who came there on a flight the Netherlands, several people were allowed to be quarantined at home.
It said Paramaribo also has the most COVID-19 infections in the past 24 hours. Six out of eleven positive cases have been registered in the capital.
“In the past 24 hours, 131 people were tested; eleven were positive and 120 negative. Suriname is now on 93 active cases and a total of 4,965 infections. Eleven people have been declared cured in the past 24 hours; that total now stands at 4,766. Currently, 24 people are still in hospitals and four in intensive care units. Furthermore, there are 57 positives in isolation.”