(CMR) A professor at the University of the West Indies, Mona, Tara Dasgupta, has become the sixth person to die in Jamaica from complications of the COVID-19 disease. He was former Head of Department and Professor Emeritus of Chemistry at UWI. Jamaican's Chief Medical Officer Dr. Jacquiline Bisasor McKenzie disclosed the details earlier this evening at the government press conference.
In an attempt to curtail the spread of the disease Prime Minister Andrew Holness has announced an extension of the closure of the borders of St. Catherine but also abandoned shopping by surnames and giving people more days to shop. This comes after it was reported that Jamaican has another confirmed 27 cases since yesterday.
Holness said the new daily curfew hours will run from 6:00 pm each day until 6:00 am the following day. The new 12-hour daily curfew will commence on Wednesday, April 22 at 6:00 pm and run for 14 days. The prime minister also ordered that work hours be restricted to 8:00 am to 4:00 pm.
Supermarkets, pharmacies and corner shops will be allowed to close at 5:00 pm. Holness said markets are to operate from 6:00 am to 4:00 pm except on Sundays when it will be closed.
He struggled with added restrictions sharing that the closure of all BPO's as of Wednesday was difficult. He shared:
“I want the country to know that this was not an easy decision,”
All call centers have been closed for a period fo 14 days starting on Wednesday after he disclosed that over 120 of the current confirmed cases stem from the Alorica business process outsourcing (BPO) in Portmore, St. Catherine. Twenty-six of the new cases are linked to the Alorica BPO.
Work-from-home arrangements will, however, be allowed to continue. At the moment, more than 10,000 BPO employees are working remotely.
The PM indicated that the wearing of masks is now compulsory in public spaces including public transportation. He has increased the social distancing from three feet to 6 feet. He encouraged “every single Jamaican who has a bank account” to sign up and use online services sharing that “now is the time to get online in every sense of the word.”
Ten residents from St. Catherine were arrested by the Hanover police after they tried to avoid the one-week lockdown.
During an evening press conference, he said the new measures will take effect on Wednesday this week. Giving an outline of what should happen on particular days, he said:
1) Wednesday – This is a shopping day
2) Thursday – A day for business operators to replenish stocks, but no shopping is allowed
3) Friday – A shopping day
4) Saturday – A shopping day
5) Sunday – A day for business operators to replenish stocks, but no shopping is allowed
6) Monday – Shopping day
7) Tuesday – No shopping allowed
People should remain within their premises unless they are moving on the shopping days. Prime Minister Holness said pharmacies are allowed to open all days but should sell only pharmaceuticals.