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Jamaican Prime Minister Says Relief Found For Oxygen Shortage; No-Movement Days Extended

Jamaica's Prime Minister, Andrew Holness, addresses a virtual press conference, yesterday (September 1). Photo credit: Donald De La Haye/JIS.

Jamaican Prime Minister Says Relief Found For Oxygen Shortage; No-Movement Days Extended

KINGSTON, Jamaica (Thursday, September 2, 2021) — Prime Minister, Andrew Holness, disclosed that additional oxygen concentrators are being procured, to assist in shoring up supplies in the health system.

“We are on the path to increasing the number of oxygen concentrators…through sources overseas, working through our Ambassador and our Consul-General in New York. We have, at this point, secured close to 80 (to) 90 oxygen concentrators,” he informed.

The Prime Minister, who was addressing a virtual press conference on Wednesday (September 1), said this is, in addition to those being provided by the Ministry of Health and Wellness, as well as supplies being provided through the Diaspora.

“We should be able to have a good amount of concentrators in the system,” he said.

He remarked that the procurement of oxygen concentrators will assist in alleviating the problem of oxygen shortage in the health system, for those persons, who present with mild coronavirus (COVID – 19) symptoms.

“The concentrators do not solve the problem, fully. The concentrators are good for persons, who have mild, but not serious COVID symptoms,” he explained.

Prime Minister Holness, who noted that bulk high-flow nasal oxygen is required to treat persons, who present with severe symptoms of the virus, added, “Certainly you won’t have this pressure on the system for persons who are mild.”

He expressed gratitude to the government of Trinidad and Tobago for the assistance it has given, in providing oxygen for the Jamaican health system.

“I would like to thank the government [of Trinidad and Tobago]. We have reached out to the government [of Trinidad and Tobago] to have a firm relationship with them, in terms of becoming suppliers for us,” he reported.

“The government is working, behind the scenes, with our partners, to ensure that we can have a more robust solution,” he said.

Holness also announced that the no-movement days will continue for another two weeks, in a bid to curb the latest surge in coronavirus (COVID-19) cases.

He advised that the days would include: Sunday, September 5; Monday, September 6; Tuesday, September 7; Sunday, September 12; Monday, September 13; and Tuesday, September 14.

He said that the nightly curfew hours will remain, 7:00 p,m. until 5 o’clock the following morning, from Wednesdays to Fridays.

The curfew will, however, commence at 6:00 p.m. on Saturday, September 4, and Saturday, September 11, continue through the no-movement days, and end at 5:00 a.m. on Wednesday, September 8, and Wednesday, September 15, respectively.

To allow persons to prepare for the additional no-movement days, businesses and workplaces will be required to close at midday on Friday, September 3, and Friday, September 10.

“The list of workplaces and businesses, which will not have to close at midday remains the same, as for the last two weeks of no-movement days,” Holness said.

The Prime Minister said that despite the extended restriction on movement, the vaccination program will continue, uninterrupted.

“Certain vaccination sites will remain open during curfew hours and on no-movement days. Persons, who wish to receive the vaccine, will be allowed to do so, during curfew hours, as was done, over the last two weeks,” Holness said.

“To be clear, on no-movement days, persons will be allowed to seek urgent medical care and those, who have overseas travel plans, can make their way to, or from, the airport,” he added.

In addition, essential-service entities and personnel will still be allowed to operate.

They include fisherfolk, farmers, factories, business process outsourcing (BPO) establishments, and those involved in the maintenance of infrastructure, financial services, and the media.

“But I remind those persons, employed to essential services, who must move on the no-movement days, to ensure you have your ID to present to the police, in case you are stopped. Even in this group, those persons, who can work from home, should do so, and only travel if necessary,” he stated.

Meanwhile, the Prime Minister said he was aware of concerns, regarding front-line workers obtaining meals, while on duty, on no-movement days.

He advised that these persons will be allowed to be served at the premises of food establishments that are registered under the E-Commerce National Delivery System (ENDS), during the curfews and on no-movement days.

They include members of the Jamaica Constabulary Force, Jamaica Defence Force, Fire Brigade, private security personnel, doctors, nurses, pharmacists, or other persons properly identified as employed to hospitals or engaged by the Ministry of Health and Wellness in the vaccination process.

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