赌季中杯外围

Stunned!

St Mary residents surprised by COVID-19 lockdown but agree with measure

BY KIMONE FRANCIS
Senior staff reporter
francisk@jamaicaobserver.com

Friday, May 08, 2020

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HUNDREDS of residents in St Mary South Eastern got an “unpleasant surprise” when they awoke yesterday to find scores of security forces personnel in their communities, an indication to some that the dreaded coronavirus disease (COVID-19) had infiltrated their space.

Fifty-eight-year-old Elaine Brown, a grandmother of five from Dover, had got up to buy flour to prepare breakfast for her grandchildren, son, and daughter when she was met with the news that the Ministry of Health and Wellness (MOHW) had imposed a 14-day quarantine on several areas, among them the coastal town of Annotto Bay, Iter Boreale, Juno Pen in Enfield, and Epsom/Dover.

The restrictions, the ministry said, are to limit community transmission as investigations show that there is considerable movement of affected people which has increased the risk of exposure to all in the communities.

A total of 13 people have tested positive for COVID-19 in these communities and 16 overall in the parish.

“I just wake up this morning and hear seh is a lockdown. We don't get to buy anything,” Brown told the Jamaica Observer, as she pointed to soldiers mere metres away at a security checkpoint.

The children were hungry, she said, but the shops were closed.

“Dinner time a come now; we nuh have nothing. Them shoulda tell wi before them lock it that we could gather things. I don't know how I going feed them. I called my daughter in Kingston, because she's a police, and tell her she maybe haffi try see if she can get something bring come. If not, mi have one banana, a it mi haffi go look bout and sprinkle some salt pon it give them to eat,” said the woman, who works on a pepper farm in a neighbouring community.

Her dependents, who range in ages from five to 22, were expressive about the family's challenge, announcing that they were hungry.

“A just that them haffi go eat. Mi cyaan mek them dead fi hungry, so them haffi go just gwaan eat that,” said Brown.

Inadvertently though, the woman acknowledged that the lockdown, which began at 6:00 am yesterday and is expected to end at 6:00 am on May 21, was necessary.

Last week, MOHW officials whisked away a neighbour who, Brown said, had contracted the virus.

On Wednesday, the tale was similar MOHW workers are said to have visited the same premises, leaving with the man's mother and sister.

“So I know it is here. I tell them (children) to stay in. Anytime I know them go shop I tell them to wash off the things,” she stated.

Member of Parliament for the constituency Dr Norman Dunn, speaking to the Observer, assured that food is on the way.

Dr Dunn, who confirmed that it is the eastern section of the constituency that is affected by the lockdown, said the health ministry and other stakeholders have gained a fair bit of experience with the needs during a lockdown, having gone through similar restrictions with the Seven and Eight Miles communities of Bull Bay and Cornpiece Settlement in Clarendon.

“The issue will always be the fact that the areas are very mobile, and therefore the fact that they are not allowed to traverse the area as much as possible is a source of concern for them. But, most importantly, is how will they eat? That is the biggest concern, but they also understand why it was done in such a way, given that they would have seen on the television the experience of another area,” Dunn said.

“I try to assure them that the ministry and the Government have had quite a bit of experience so far and therefore they are in a better position to deal with these emerging areas of quarantine. So, with that level of assurance, they are confident that things will happen in their best interest,” he noted.

He said that residents have also been assured that the measures being taken are in their best interest.

“The good thing about it is that they are aware of what is happening. They realise that the threat of corona[virus] is very real and it poses a clear and present danger to their communities, and themselves in particular, and therefore in all the areas that I've gone they have cooperated very well with the security forces and the team from the Ministry of Health,” he said.

Scores of health care workers combed the communities logging the responses given by residents during interviews.

It is not clear if on-site testing was being conducted, though several ministry patient transfer unit vehicles were on hand.

Enfield resident Kerome Edie welcomed the presence of the security forces and health care workers.

“We love what going on in the community right now because people need fi tek this thing more serious and practise social distancing because you have a lot of elderly people living in this community,” he said. “People here are diabetic and have other chronic illnesses so we have to take this thing very seriously. So I'm not against the lockdown; I'm totally with it. We want to control the spread of this disease.”

The health ministry has not indicated a possible reason for the increase in confirmed cases, but it is believed that a large gathering for a funeral in Annotto Bay mid-April could have contributed.

While not ruling it out as a possibility, Dr Dunn said he is reliant on information from the health ministry.

Tyrese Pryce acknowledged that a funeral with more than the mandated 10 people was held in his community and so was not averse to the lockdown.

“It's for the best, so we can't really complain. Actions have consequences them say. This won't affect me because mi going to just stay home, so a just the people them need to know within themself seh them fi stay a them yard and who have it fi turn in themself or get further help,” he said.

Asked if he was prepared for a lockdown, he said: “Not really.”

Like Pryce, Elaine Stewart was unprepared.

“We don't have no food. I asked the soldier if I can go to my business place for some food but him seh I have to turn back and stay in so mi haffi stay in. Them seh wi have to wait until the prime minister tell us when we can go out go buy food. So them haffi do something about it because wi a go dead fi hungry,” said Stewart.


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