KINGSTON, Jamaica (JIS) – Prime Minister Andrew Holness, is urging citizens to take all necessary precautions in preparation for Hurricane Matthew, which could impact the island as early as Sunday.

Addressing an emergency meeting with heads of agencies at the Office of the Prime Minister, today, Holness said the Government is now on high alert as it prepares for the system, which could pass over the island at a Category 2 status.

Following presentations from the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM), National Works Agency (NWA), the National Water Commission (NWC), the security forces, and other relevant agencies, Holness said he is satisfied that all disaster management measures have been activated.

Acknowledging the potential impact of the hurricane on the country’s economic prospects, the Prime Minister said it is critical that this is mitigated through preparedness.

He urged members of Parliament present to check for blocked gullies and drains in their constituencies and move with alacrity to do necessary cleaning work to avoid potential flooding. He advised that an advanced allocation from the Constituency Development Fund will be made available tomorrow for this purpose.

The Prime Minister further advised them to encourage fisherfolk and other at-risk persons to take the hurricane warnings seriously.

“Citizens should make all the necessary preparations. The Government will do all it can, but I have to appeal to all Jamaicans to look out for their own safety and security,” he said.

Holness said persons should heed all warnings to evacuate where necessary and made a special call for persons living on the cays to evacuate.

Meanwhile, Director of the Meteorological Service of Jamaica, Evan Thompson, said the hurricane system is continuing to gain strength as it moves westward over the south-eastern section of the Caribbean basin.

He informed that the system is forecast to continue moving westward into Saturday, when it is to make a dramatic turn towards the north-west. It is expected to pass Jamaica’s eastern coastline from Sunday evening into Monday morning.