(CMR) Jamaica now has 143 confirmed cases of the coronavirus.
The announcement was made at a Ministry of Health and Wellness press conference, which was scheduled to start at 10:00 am., but began at around 11:13 a.m.
According to the Health and Wellness Minister, Christopher Tufton, the 18 new additions were recorded over the last 24 hours.
Most of the new additions are believed to be linked to the Alorica call centre- the site of the St Catherine outbreak.
The Minister further revealed that contact has been made with 447 Alorcia employees from St Catherine; of that number 414 interviews were conducted and samples were collected at the Alorica location, as well as, health centres in Linstead, St Jago, Old Harbour, and Greater Portmore.
While all of the call centre's staff, which according to the registry is 787 employees have been accounted for, the minister said that there had been some challenges in reaching some of the staff due to address and contact number discrepancies.
Tufton further said that his ministry had already made contact with staff living outside of the parish, namely in Clarendon and Kingston and St Andrew.
Tufton further appealed to all employees at the establishment to make contact with the health ministry, as he noted that the ministry intended to test all employees.
“The Alorica situation is the dominant challenge for us now in the country, as it relates to COVID-19 and the response, it represents for us the weak link, if you will, in the arsenal and in the work that we have been doing,” Tufton said.
“It is going to be very difficult and is very difficult to reach all of those individuals but even more so, to contact trace all the persons they have come into contact with. And given the extent to which we have had positive tests, it is quite clear that the possibility or the likelihood of spread by one of those individuals to their friends, neighbors, the taxi driver, the restaurant, wherever they go, the possibility for spread are real,” added Tufton, who justified the Prime Minister latest announcement to lockdown the parish of St. Catherine.
Tufton also shared a general update on figures as it relates to the COVID-19 figure more generally noted that 23 persons had recovered and been discharged, while five persons have died from the infectious disease.
Jamaica experienced a significant jump in the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the last two days, which led the Prime Minister, Andrew Holness, to announce the lockdown of the parish of St. Catherine.
Speculations are that Holness may be forced to expand the lockdown to other areas of the island.