CMO urges public to adhere to quarantine rules, warns that increased enforcement is imminent

Chief Medical Officer, Dr Rhonda Sealey-Thomas (file photo)
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By Orville Williams

[email protected]

The country’s Chief Medical Officer (CMO) is urging persons instructed to quarantine, primarily for being in recent contact with someone diagnosed with Covid-19, to adhere to the stipulations or risk being reprimanded for breaching them.

The health sector is currently facing the worst Covid outbreak since the start of the pandemic, with active infections hovering around the 1000 mark for several days. What this means is, the measures in place to halt the spread of the virus – like vaccinations, isolation, quarantine – are likely of greater importance than they’ve ever been.

Dr Rhonda Sealy-Thomas told a media briefing this week that, despite trusting those quarantined to abide by the rules, the Ministry will step up its monitoring and enforcement.

“Yes, we are counting on the public to stay in quarantine, [but] we are going to step up our checks to person’s homes. We have the cooperation of the police and there is a fine [that], if you’re placed in quarantine and you break quarantine, you will be asked to pay”, she said.

The Ministry recently adjusted its quarantine protocols, allowing asymptomatic Covid patients to leave quarantine after 14 days without a mandatory Covid test.

Observer previously received reports that some individuals were breaching the quarantine rules, as they felt they were waiting too long to receive the test results that would confirm their release.

Others, though they followed the rules as prescribed, were left feeling disgruntled similarly due to the time spent in quarantine.

The adjustment, the CMO said, is meant to provide some reprieve to that situation.

“We’re hoping that this will allow the public to get back to work [because] we’ve had complaints and we know it has affected [both] the public and private sector in terms of work.

“This is one way where we can get persons back out to work in a timelier manner, instead of having to [continuously] wait for a test for release.”

Speaking further on the improvements to monitoring and enforcement of quarantine, Dr Sealy-Thomas explained their plans to work alongside the police, as well as the use of the monitoring bracelets which proved a bit of a challenge in the past.

“We’ve had methods in the past…there are direct checks when we go to their homes and we’re stepping that up in collaboration with the police. We’ve had meetings with the police and we have the assurances that the police will work with us to do spot checks, so we can show up at somebody’s house at any point in time to see whether or not they’re really in quarantine.

“Of course, we [also] have the monitoring bracelets that can let us know somebody’s location at a particular point in time. We had some challenges with those bracelets initially and we’ve reserved them for persons coming into the country who are not able to quarantine at the government facility.

“I’m told we will get more and we can use those for persons, as well, who are contacts of confirmed cases”, the CMO disclosed.

According to the country’s top health official, approximately 1500 persons were in quarantine as of this week.

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