Monday 26 October, 2020

Holness suspends 'traditional' campaign activities as COVID cases rise

Prime Minister and Jamaica Labour Party Leader Andrew Holness greets supporters during a drive-through of South East St Andrew last week.

Prime Minister and Jamaica Labour Party Leader Andrew Holness greets supporters during a drive-through of South East St Andrew last week.

Prime Minister Andrew Holness has discontinued his own political campaign activities ahead of the September 3 general election.

Holness made the move in response to the spike in coronavirus (COVID-19) cases in the island, according to Health Minister Dr Christopher Tufton who announced the prime minister's decision at a press conference Sunday evening.

"He has indicated, based on what is happening now with the COVID numbers and also the risks associated with campaigning, that as of today he is suspending his own campaign activities, meaning the traditional approach to campaigning," Tufton said.

"What that would mean is that persons would be engaged in the administrative component of preparing for an election day activity, but the typical approach to campaigning - meetings, motorcades and so on - the prime minister has indicated that as of today he will not be engaged in those traditional activities," the health minister explained.

On Sunday, Jamaica reported 116 new COVID-19 cases, its largest one-day increase in coronavirus infections. The number of confirmed cases in Jamaica has jumped by 383 over the last five days to 1,529, with health authorities attributing the spike to increased number of gatherings and parties during the first week of August when Jamaica celebrated the Emancipation and Independence holidays.

There is now real fear that heightened political activities ahead of the general election could help to further spread the virus. Against that background, Tufton said the move by the prime minister to suspend his campaign activities was a positive one.

"That I believe will send a strong message... that this is the responsible thing to do in order to mitigate against the possible risks," he said.

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