FULL CLAIM: “Jamaica has not recorded any cases of the coronavirus”
In late March 2021, the claim that Jamaica hadn’t experienced cases of COVID-19 circulated on Facebook. The COVID-19 situation in the Caribbean island was rarely featured in large international news outlets, which may have led people to believe that the country was spared by the pandemic. However, this is inaccurate, as we show below.
The official data from the Jamaican Ministry of Health & Wellness reported 24,124 COVID-19 cases and 421 COVID-19 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic, as of 23 March 2021. Therefore, it is inaccurate to claim that Jamaica hasn’t recorded any COVID-19 cases.
Furthermore, the evolution of COVID-19 cases over time indicates that the situation is far from benign in Jamaica, as shown by OurWorldinData, a website that displays aggregated official data. Figure 1 shows the positivity rate, or the percentage of COVID-19 diagnostic tests that returned positive results, in Jamaica over the course of the pandemic. As seen in the figure, Jamaica is experiencing a fourth wave of COVID-19 cases as of 23 March 2021. The COVID-19 positivity rate is significantly higher in Jamaica than in the U.S. In fact, Jamaica ranked twelfth among countries for which information about the positivity rate is available.
Figure 1: Daily COVID-19 positivity rate, or the percentage of daily COVID-19 diagnostic tests that returned a positive result, in Jamaica compared to the U.S. as provided by OurWorldInData.
The number of COVID-19 deaths per million inhabitants remains lower in Jamaica than in the U.S. However, COVID-19 mortality in Jamaica clearly shows a steady increase since early February 2021, reflecting a worsening situation (Figure 2).
Figure 2: Daily new confirmed COVID-19 deaths per million inhabitants in Jamaica compared to the U.S. as reported by OurWorldInData. Note the steady increase of the number of deaths in Jamaica.
Furthermore, the U.S Centers for Disease Control and Prevention put Jamaica on the fourth and highest level of its COVID-19 level scale and recommended people avoid traveling to the island.
In summary, claims that Jamaica hasn’t recorded COVID-19 cases are inaccurate. Jamaica is experiencing its fourth wave of COVID-19 cases and shows a significantly higher positivity rate than the U.S. Recent trends in COVID-19 deaths are also worrying, as it follows a clear upward trend.