And it joins a small hemispheric club that includes Jamaica, El Salvador, Peru and a handful of others that responded to the crisis with forceful measures that seemed excessive just days ago but now seem prescient.
Jamaica was one of the first countries in the Caribbean to react to coronavirus, after seeing its first case on March 10. The country barred flights from hotzones, restricted the movement of tourists, enforced quarantines for all new arrivals and canceled school, among other measures. It also put part of an entire town, Bull Bay, on lockdown.
IS IT WORKING?
Now, while Jamaica has 25 coronavirus cases, neighboring Cuba has 48 and the Dominican Republic has at least 312, according to Pan American Health Organization, PAHO.
While health professionals say such draconian, isolating measures are the only true safeguard against a novel virus, it’s still too soon to tell if the strategy is truly working.
The stringent measures do have one clear benefit, however: They buy time.
Jamaica has been using its measured response to buy ventilators, protective gear and hospital beds, explained Health Minister Christopher Tufton.
“Early in the day we decided it was better to take fairly strong measures – starting with public education, and then graduating into other restrictions in order to at least contain it, even while we prepare our public health system to deal with the inevitable,” he told the Miami Herald.