(JAMAICA OBSERVER) – The Jamaican community here is hunkering down and treating the coronavirus pandemic “with the utmost seriousness that the situation deserves”, according to several nationals interviewed by the Jamaica Observer .
There is also a coordinated effort on the part of the Jamaican Embassy in Washington DC and the consulates in Miami and New York as well as Diaspora leaders aimed at sensitising Jamaicans about the risks of infection.
Head of the Diaspora Task Force on crime prevention, Dr Rupert Francis said that so far “there has been no reports of anyone in the Jamaican community contracting the virus or reports of any death”. He said that people were very vigilant and were following the relevant protocols.
Newly elected representative of the Global Diaspora Council, Dr Karren Dunkley also confirmed that there were no reports of infections or death among Jamaicans here so far. She said that under an emergency project, the office of the Northeast Region Representative was coordinating temporary accommodation for Jamaican students who have been forced to leave colleges and universities as school authorities undertake a process of cleaning and santisation.
Dunkley said that so far 35 students have been assisted with accommodation as well as storage facilities, supplies, a limited amount of cash, and counselling by social worker, Lorraine Smith.
While he could not provide a definite number, Dr Francis said that “some, people have cancelled traveling arrangements to Jamaica and destinations within the US”, while others continue to travel domestically.
Many churches with predominantly Jamaican congregations experienced a significant fall in attendance Sunday. In Queens, attendance at the New Jerusalem Church was “way down”, according to a congregant. Services at that and the Queens Circuit of Seventh-day Adventist churches have been suspended until further notice.
Many Jamaicans are also avoiding large gatherings and are stocking up on essentials like food, water, and sanitary supplies.
The president of the Ex-Correctional Officers Association of Jamaica, Ronnie Hammick said the non-profit body was forced to cancel one of its fund-raising events planned for next month because of the spread of the virus.