Within “a week or two”, the Jamaican Government will have to accept dozens of deportees from the United States (US).
Minister of National Security Dr Horace Chang made the disclosure on Monday, days after US President Donald Trump signed an order that imposes visa sanctions on countries that refuse to accept the deportation of their citizens, even amid the global new coronavirus pandemic.
US coronavirus infections are close to 590,000 and deaths have topped 23,000.
Jamaica closed its airspace to incoming passengers – initially at midnight on March 21 before being extended two days later – as part of measures imposed by the Holness administration to contain the spread of COVID-19 locally.
Chang said that a batch of deportees was scheduled to arrive in the island earlier this month. However, he said the deportation was delayed after “discussions” with US authorities.
“We have been able to delay the entrance of a number of deportees, but we will have to accept them at some point. In fact, I expect that we will have to accept them within a week or two,” Chang told The Gleaner yesterday.
He could not give the precise number of deportees expected, but disclosed that the US “usually sends us between 50 and 60 every two months or so”.
“We would definitely want to keep it within that number so that we can manage them, and once they come in, we will have to quarantine them.”
Up to yesterday, Jamaica had 73 confirmed cases of SARS-CoV-2, the official name of the virus, with four deaths. According to the Ministry of Health & Wellness, 31 cases were imported, 34 were contacts of confirmed cases, six were local transmissions, while two are under investigation.