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Revellers have been urged to take precautions as they wine to the rhythm of soca and calypso at carnival events because of heightened concern over the spread of the novel coronavirus here.
Carmen Brissett, the vice-president of the Nurses’ Association of Jamaica, has also warned that carnival-goers might have to consider skipping the festivities completely.
Jamaica reported its first confirmed case of COVID-19 yesterday.
Brissett said yesterday that health officials have been issuing directives discouraging large gatherings.
“I will now hope that the persons who are the organisers of the carnival would take heed, as well as the persons who usually participate in carnival,” Brissett said.
Further, the NAJ vice-president stated that the ministry could not stop persons from contracting the virus if they chose to disregard advice.
Jamaica’s carnival season starts to warm up in January, with socasize classes, tailgate parties, concerts and more, but the road march, which is the most anticipated event, is scheduled to take place on Sunday, April 19.
The Mona Campus of The University of the West Indies is scheduled host its carnival road march this weekend.
During a press briefing at the Ministry of Health & Wellness in New Kingston yesterday, Tufton said an announcement on public gatherings will be made at a later date.
“There are certain decisions which may have to be taken. The issue around public gatherings and events that are on the national calendar … . We will comment further on Boys and Girls’ Champs and any other event of public gathering,” Tufton said.
In a joint press release issued yesterday from Bacchanal Jamaica, Xaymaca International and Xodus Carnival, organisers assured masqueraders that Mas will still go on despite the COVID-19 threat.
“At this time, we continue to consult with the Government about precautions to be adopted over the next few months and the implications for the entire entertainment and tourism industries … ,” the press statement said.
“We remain in full execution mode and are optimistic that Jamaica will be able to minimise the effects on our people and visitors in the near term.”
One reveller who has already purchased her costume for Mas said given the confirmation of the virus in Jamaica, she hopes that carnival organisers will postpone the festivities until later this year.
“They should postpone it to see how much they can get it under control or to see when the virus dies down, because you don’t want people coming in the country from all over and expose who are already here to the virus,” Latania Lewis told The Gleaner yesterday.
“The one case is horrible enough because you already have people panicking.”
She continued: “Considering how carnival works, I don’t think persons will be able to get a refund, because they are making the costumes from scratch and they have to purchase the material and pay the designers for the work they have done, so to give back persons their money, I don’t think that is possible.”
Costumes for carnival run from approximately J$50,000 to $173,000.
Brissett said that if carnival organisers neither cancel nor postpone events, mas players will need to take the extra step in sanitisation to ward off COVID-19.