Dr. Christopher Tufton
Health Minister Dr. Christopher Tufton has said the timeline for the disembarkation of the 1,044 Jamaicans from Royal Caribbean Cruise Line's Adventure of the Seas, could be reduced.
It was projected to take two weeks.
Dr. Tufton visited Falmouth, Trelawny Thursday afternoon, where the processing of the first batch of 200 Jamaicans took place.
The minister said based on the flow of Thursday's activities, the Jamaicans can be taken off the ship sooner than expected.
"We are comfortable that it went well, that the planning was well executed by all - not just the medical team but all other participants - and as a consequence, there is a possibility that we could speed the process up. But I think the team will now have to brief themselves and it involves not just what happens here on the port but also what happens in terms of the accommodation arrangements," he indicated.
Dr. Tufton said the government has been offered 400 additional rooms at the Bahia Principe Hotel.
Rooms have also been offered at Jewels in Runaway Bay, St. Ann.
He expressed relief that the processing of the first batch of Jamaicans from the Adventure of the Seas went according to plan.
"The medical team on the ground are happy with how it turned out. Those that were processed, I am told, were happy with how the proceedings took place, and we had an opportunity to speak with the captain of the vessel and the other leadership of the vessel, including the hotel director...who is a Jamaican from St. James, and all reports from those persons indicate that things went extremely smoothly and they are very grateful to the government. In fact, they have asked me to pass on to the Prime Minister and the people of Jamaica their appreciation for the way things have gone to date," he revealed.
The persons being allowed off first are those considered to be of high priority, including persons with medical illnesses.
No need for concern
In the meantime, the Health Minister is seeking to assure there is no need for concern that persons could contract COVID-19 during the testing and quarantining process.
Some ship workers who arrived from the UK and have now tested positive for COVID-19 are claiming they contracted the virus while being transported to be quarantined.
Dr. Tufton said persons on the Adventure of the Seas have also expressed concern about possible contamination while being transferred from the ship to quarantine facilities.
"Firstly, the rooms that we have gotten, the additional rooms, are not rooms that were previously occupied with the previous batch of persons who came in by air. But secondly, the medical team have a very strict deep cleaning protocol which they have been practicing for the last three-plus months since COVID has come to Jamaica - not only in hotels, but in hospitals, in vehicles that transport patients, at the Ministry of Health. That practice has proven successful," he sought to assure.