Holness confident scientists will find COVID-19 cure

March 21, 2020
Holness - This is not the end of time, it is not the end of the world.

Jamaica's Prime Minister, Andrew Holness, has sought to assure young people that there is life after COVID-19. The country's airports and seaports will close to incoming passenger traffic at midnight Saturday, the latest in a series of measures imposed to contain the spread of the new coronavirus.

"This is not the end of time, it is not the end of the world," said Holness who admits that the country is facing its most challenging test since gaining political independence in 1962. 

As of Saturday morning, COVID-19, which has declared a global pandemic by the World Health Organisation, has infected 19 persons in Jamaica and caused the death of one person. Holness said that those numbers will increase. The disease has already claimed some 12,000 lives worldwide and infected 291,000 persons as of Saturday morning. And even as Jamaica moves to contain its spread, Holness, like the rest of the world, is hopeful scientists will soon find a cure.

"Science and technology is advancing rapidly and, therefore, I am confident that they will find either a vaccine or a treatment management regime to be able to give confidence to people that they can control this disease," Holness said.

US researchers gave the first shot to the first person in a test of an experimental coronavirus vaccine Monday – leading off a worldwide hunt for protection even as the pandemic surges. The Guardian in the UK said that about 35 companies and academic institutions are racing to create a vaccine.

Meanwhile, the prime minister, mindful of the likely displacement that will come as a result of the ban on incoming passenger travel, said Jamaicans overseas should seek shelter wherever they are.

"Stay put, Stay where you are. I know it is difficult," Holness said on Friday. "Some people may not be able to find food and shelter because some of them are in school and schools are closed and they are sent home. ... Inasmuch as we can help – that is the next phase – we have to work out how that will be done. But it is a difficult time, our prayers are with you, and we will try to see what else we can offer as assistance." 

 

IN PHOTO: A pharmacist gives Jennifer Haller (left) the first shot in the first-stage safety study clinical trial of a potential vaccine for COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, Monday, March 16, 2020, at the Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute in Seattle. (AP Photo)

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