Jamaica will not participate in next month’s prestigious Penn Relays in the United States, Minister of Health Dr Christopher Tufton announced Tuesday as he disclosed that the island has recorded its first case of the new Coronavirus (COVID-19).
A decision is also to be taken on the staging of the annual Boys’ and Girls’ Athletics Championships, set for later this month at the National Stadium, he added.
Minister Tufton made the announcements at a press conference where it was disclosed that a Jamaican woman who returned from the United Kingdom last week, had tested positive for the virus on Tuesday.
“I have confirmed that in terms of the Penn Relays, the Ministry of Education, through Cabinet instructions, has advised schools about not participating in the Penn Relays this year,” Minister Tufton said Tuesday.
“We will comment further on the Boys and Girls champs and any other gathering in the days coming.”
The local schools championship is set for March 24-28.
The 126th staging of the Penn Relays, the largest relay meet in the world, is scheduled for April 23-25 in Philadelphia, United States.
But on Monday, organizers of the three-day event, which usually attracts more than 15,000 athletes and 110,000 spectators, said they were uncertain if it would be held this year because of the COVID-19 outbreak which has touched more than 100 countries and has affected international sports events, some of which have been cancelled, postponed, or held without spectators.
They said in a statement that the University of Pennsylvania was consistently monitoring the global outbreak and was “working with experts across campus and coordinating with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other government agencies”.
“Penn Athletics has not cancelled any home events or enacted any spectator restrictions due to the current novel Coronavirus concerns at this time. Travellers and visitors to campus are always encouraged to practice good hand hygiene to limit the spread of germs and illnesses. As conditions evolve, the University will continue to review, update, and publicize its travel and event policies,” it added.