COVID-19 cases at Clarendon church spark community lockdown

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AS the rising number of COVID-19 cases in the island becomes increasingly worrisome, the health authorities yesterday placed a Clarendon community under 14-day lockdown after virus spread started among the congregation of a church.Sandy Bay is the second Clarendon community to be quarantined due to a concentrated spread of the virus, and the sixth community to be restricted since Jamaica confirmed its first case of COVID-19 in March.

The health ministry says community surveillance was carried out in Sandy Bay and neighbouring communities, where there is “significant cause for concern because of lack of adherence to infection prevention and control measures”.

In a statement yesterday, the ministry said members of a church that ignored safety protocols have tested positive. It said, too, that crowd gathering without use of face masks was noted at the church, where there are several individuals with respiratory illnesses.

Two people with COVID-19 are now admitted at the May Pen Hospital and case investigations and contact tracing have turned up six positive contacts of these two individuals.Another 13 individuals found with COVID-19-related symptoms have been tested, and there are two confirmed cases and a suspected case from the neighbouring community of Rosewell, from which several people attend the same church.“Due to the number of positive cases and the number of persons with symptoms in the community, the health authorities have concluded that there is considerable risk of further transmission and infection in this community,” the health ministry said in its explanation for the quarantine.

The ministry stressed that people who have been exposed may cause spread in the communities, resulting in a rapid increase in the number of cases. It noted, too, the high movement of people within the affected households in the community, the high population density, and the vulnerability of individuals within the community to severe illness due to age, comorbidities, and other socio-economic factors.

The ministry explained that the quarantine is necessary to restrict movement of residents while carrying out further testing, monitoring, and preventing new exposures and transmission of the virus.Up to Wednesday there were 928 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the island. This number includes 348 imported cases and 62 local transmissions that are not epidemiologically linked. Of the total, 745 people have recovered, 10 are in isolation at a government facility and there are no critically ill patients.Health authorities are worried about the increasing number of people being hospitalised for COVID-19, which moved from 13 to 40 between July 1 and August 5.The Government has repeatedly warned that, with the relaxing of the restrictions, if people do not continue to adhere to safety protocols and if there is any significant increase in positive cases, there could be a tightening of those measures again.Also up to Wednesday, there were 23,449 people in home quarantine, 79 in home isolation, and 12 people have died as a result of COVID-19.

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