Right Steps & Poui Trees


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350 Words or Less: No Need for Covid Conversations Anymore?

One of the communication tools the Ministry of Health and Wellness (MOHW) has used during the pandemic to share information with the public is the press conferences dubbed Covid Conversations. For some periods, these Conversations took place routinely on Thursday evenings and included an epidemiological update on the Covid situation in Jamaica, with slides, presented by the Chief Medical Officer or the National Epidemiologist. Aspects of policy and administration would be dealt with and current issues that had recently arisen. Importantly, it was also an opportunity for members of the media to ask questions of MOHW representatives, including the Minister and Permanent Secretary, and have them answered on the record. And the PBCJ recordings of these events have provided a very useful archive for tracking aspects of the pandemic and the MOHW’s approach.

In more recent months, however, these Covid Conversations have been held less frequently, as I and fellow blogger Emma Lewis have commented on on Twitter:

It isn’t that the Minister or the CMO or the Director of Family Health Services are not accessible to the media. They certainly do interviews on various radio programmes. However, these are not archived in the way that the PBCJ recordings are and quickly become inaccessible to the public and they certainly won’t be available via Access to Information requests. And when the Minister speaks in Parliament, members of the media don’t get to ask him questions there.

The last Covid Conversation was held on the morning of Tuesday, October 26, 2021, an unusual day and time, as the Minister himself commented. That’s 4 weeks ago today. There has been no Covid Conversation in November. Why not? Has MOHW decided that these convos are no longer useful? If so, what is the strategy being used to replace them or to provide other means for the sharing of the information they provided and the regular opportunity to have questions asked and answered? Or is it that there’s nothing new to share or to answer questions about? Covid’s over?

Maybe this Thursday we’ll have another Covid Conversation…or maybe not…


Disaster Risk Management Order No. 11 Amendment – Dated November 18, 2021

The current Disaster Risk Management Order has now been posted on the Ministry of Justice website, which has a new look for the arrangement of its archive of these gazetted Orders. Perhaps the transition to this new arrangement was what was causing some glitches to the page over the past couple of days. Neither Order No. 11 nor this Amendment is posted on the OPM website yet.

Here is a copy of this gazetted Order, Disaster Risk Management (Enforcement Measures) (No. 11)(Amendment) Order, 2021:


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Disaster Risk Management Order No. 11, 2021 – Dated October 29, 2021

This is a copy of Disaster Risk Management Order No. 11, 2021, dated October 29, 2021. It is not the most recent Order, as Prime Minister Holness announced changes to the measures in Parliament last Tuesday (November 16, 2021). The new Order or Amendment to this Order has not yet been posted on either the OPM or Ministry of Justice website.

A copy of this gazetted Order is posted on the Ministry of Justice website but is not yet posted on the OPM website.


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The Longest Partial Lunar Eclipse in Centuries

I love gazing up into the night sky, so when I read that the longest partial lunar eclipse in centuries would be taking place between Thursday night and Friday morning, I set my alarm to wake up so that I could take a look.

And it was beautiful! The moon was a deep orangey-red at the time I was looking at it, similar in colour to a moon in full eclipse I watched a couple of years ago. The sky was almost cloudless and gave a clear view of the moon.

My attempts at photographing what I saw were stunningly unsuccessful, however. My phone camera doesn’t do well with night shots and this was the best I managed with it:

And my camera has developed an internal twitch that needs repairing and so wasn’t much use either:

No good saying, “Next time!” as the next time there is a partial lunar eclipse this long will be on February 8, 2669. Though there will be one two minutes shorter on November 30, 2039.

I had much better luck with the Super Blood Wolf Moon in January 2019. It will have to do….

If you’d like to see some photos of the eclipse from Friday morning, you could take a look here.


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Cases Reported of a Possible Exposure to Covid-19 in Schools?

During his statement in Parliament on Tuesday (Nov 16, 2021), while announcing changes to the Covid-19 measures, PM Andrew Holness briefly mentioned cases of children with possible exposure to Covid-19 and how this was dealt with by schools.

Speaking about the country as a whole, he said:

“We are being very cautious in reopening and, just to be clear, we are not going to shut down again.”

He then went on to say:

“So, Madam Speaker, we have reopened our schools. We have seen cases reported of a possible exposure to Covid-19. We haven’t shut them when they have opened. We tell them to sanitise, clean up, isolate the child, keep them at home. But we are not going to close the schools again.”

These cases referred to by the Prime Minister – of possible Covid exposure in children in schools – haven’t been reported in the media nor to general public by the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information (MOEYI) or by the Ministry of Health and Wellness (MOHW). In his statement, PM Holness gave no other information about these cases…what schools or parishes they occurred in, when they occurred or how many children or schools were affected, for example.

Other questions needing answers include:

  • Has information about these cases been reported to the parents, guardians or families in the schools where these cases occurred?
  • Were the children who were possibly exposed to Covid-19 tested to see if they actually had Covid-19?
  • Were the other children and teachers in their class or in the school also tested?
  • Was any contact tracing done?

And a more general question needs to be asked about what exactly the protocol is when schools have a child in attendance who was possibly exposed to Covid-19, beyond what PM Holness mentioned…”We tell them to sanitize, clean up, isolate the child, keep them at home.”

There is very little specific information in the MOEYI’s Manual for the Reopening of Educational Institutions – Version 3, August 2021 on how suspected/confirmed cases of Covid-19 in students or staff are to be dealt with. And there is no mention of testing. Perhaps it is set out in detail elsewhere. It would be good to know.

PBCJ recording of the sitting of the House of Representatives on November 16, 2021


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The Emergency Powers (Specified Areas in the Parishes of Kingston and St. Andrew) Regulations, 2021: a copy of the Gazette

On Sunday, November 14, 2021, Prime Minister Andrew Holness announced that States of Public Emergency had been declared in the parishes of Westmoreland, Hanover and St James and in the police divisions of St Andrew South, Kingston Western, Kingston Central and Kingston Eastern in the Corporate Area.

Below is a copy of the Gazette with The Emergency Powers (Specified Areas in the Parishes of Kingston and St Andrew) Regulations, 2021, which relate to the current State of Emergency.