Jamaica’s Medical officials back further easing of COVID restrictions

AS Jamaicans anticipate the long-awaited return to normalcy from the novel coronavirus restrictions, health authorities have signalled their support for further reductions to the existing Disaster Risk Management Act (DRMA) measures.

On February 22, Prime Minister Andrew Holness announced that a further relaxation of the DRMA measures could come today.

Holness stressed that with Jamaica’s COVID-19 numbers moving in the right direction, the time has come to relax some of the measures implemented to arrest the spread of the novel coronavirus.

President of Nurses Association of Jamaica Patsy Edwards Henry said that she is not averse to the gradual reopening process as long as the necessary evaluation is done to determine the impact on the country.

“We have to realise that COVID-19 is becoming endemic and it’s no longer classified as a pandemic. The pandemic stage has passed. All countries and all populations have to do whatever it takes to get back to normal,” Edwards Henry told the Jamaica Observer on Wednesday.

“I think we need to take into consideration the numbers, the positivity rate, and what has happened over the last three weeks with schools resuming face-to-face and businesses opening. Based on outcomes of those reviews, then I do believe we can take steps to further move back to what we call normal,” she added.

Noting that people have suffered from psychological, psychiatric and social implications since the onset of the novel coronavirus pandemic, President of Jamaica Medical Doctors Association Dr Mindi Fitz-Henley said further relaxation of COVID-19 measures is expected.

“It’s been a long two years for many persons, especially for our children who have been out of school, and so we always know that we had to get to a point where we could safely live with COVID-19 once we have got our numbers down and for the last couple of weeks, we have been able to do that,” she said.

Further, Fitz-Henley expressed that the country has to remain cautious and willing to adapt if the measures need to be adjusted.

“We understand why the restrictions are being reduced, but what we want persons to remember is that COVID-19 is not gone. As everybody can see, there are increasing numbers across the world in terms of China, United States, United Kingdom. In the US, their death rate is pretty high, losing over 1,000 Americans per day, and one death is one too many. We have to be very cautious when we are doing things — we are following the science behind it and following what’s happening on the world circuit,” she said.

President of the Medical Association of Jamaica Dr Brian James expressed that he is pleased with the Government’s pace at relaxing the COVID-19 measures.

“Basically, we are quite happy that the strategy being used is to relax slowly. What is recommended is that the authorities follow what the health experts say when they assess the situation and see what the risks are, the level of immunity existing in the society, and then use that information to determine how quickly it is relaxed,” he said.

Countries such as Guyana, recently announced the removal of most of the regulations implemented to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus pandemic.

The Guyanese Government on Monday declared the removal of restrictions on hosting and attending social activities as well as indicating that mask-wearing, while no longer mandatory, is still being encouraged.

The Caribbean country further announced that people will no longer need to present proof of vaccination when entering public buildings. Guyana also encouraged the continued sanitisation of public buildings and maintenance of hand-washing stations in place for visitors.

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