Jamaica considering restriction on UK travel amidst coronavirus concerns

Prime Minister Andrew Holness says the government is concerned following Jamaica’s second confirmed imported case of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) connected to the United Kingdom (UK).

He has indicated that the administration is considering whether to impose travel restrictions for the European country with which the island has deep ties. 

“Cabinet spent an extensive period discussing the issue of travel restriction related to the UK. It is of great concern to us now but we don’t want to act hastily,” Holness said at an emergency press conference at Jamaica House on Wednesday evening.

In announcing the second confirmed COVID-19 case, health minister Dr Christopher Tufton said the patient is an employee of the US Embassy in Kingston who had recently travelled to the island from the UK.

The first confirmed case, announced Tuesday, involved a Jamaican woman who also holds UK citizenship. She tested positive for COVID-19 days after she arrived in the island to attend a funeral. 

At Wednesday’s press conference, Tufton also expressed concern over travel to the UK.

“The UK is worrying to be very frank,” he said, adding that “there may have to be some decisions.”

Tufton said the extent the virus is present in a country and the rate of spread are two key factors considers when deciding whether to impose travel restrictions.

He noted that “other important variables that link both countries” are also considered.

Jamaica has already imposed travel restrictions on seven countries where there are a high number of COVID-19 cases – Spain, France, Germany; China, Italy, South Korea, Singapore, and Iran.

There were 456 confirmed cases in the UK, including eight deaths, up to Wednesday.