PM says $1 billion spent to repatriate 2,300 J’cans

PRIME Minister Andrew Holness told the House of Representatives last night that about 2,300 Jamaicans had been repatriated under the Government’s controlled re-entry programme at a cost of $1 billion.

Holness told the House of Representatives that the expenditure was primarily on food, transportation, and accommodation.

He recalled that the Government had initially planned to charge returnees a US$20-a-day fee, but this had not been implemented.

The prime minister explained that 50 people from among the 2,300 returnees tested positive for COVID-19.

However, the Government expects to accommodate another 3,500 returnees during the month of June, and a likely 7,000 in all are now expected to return home within a couple of months. This includes some 900 Jamaicans sheltering across the region awaiting to return home.

“I believe that we are at a point where we can increase the pace of repatriation; the best time to take the risk is now. It is a risk, but it is an imperative that must be done,” Holness stated.

He said that there were now 590 cases of COVID-19 in Jamaica, including two new cases which were identified yesterday from the Jamaican returnees.

An additional 34 recoveries have been noted, which have pushed the recovery rate to 60 per cent.

There are still only nine COVID-19-related deaths recorded.

— Balford Henry

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