Bull Bay blues

Bull Bay blues

Mixed reactions from residents who know woman first tested positive for COVID-19

BY ARTHUR HALL
Editor-at-Large
halla@jamaicaobserver.com

Thursday, March 12, 2020

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PANIC and pragmatism were in equal measure in Bull Bay, St Andrew yesterday following the disclosure that the first person to have tested positive for novel coronavirus (COVID-19) in Jamaica was staying in that community.

The Ministry of Health announced on Tuesday that a Jamaican woman who lives in the United Kingdom and was visiting from that country, arrived in the island on March 4 for a funeral and has been hospitalised since March 9, after showing signs of the virus.

She has been in isolation at the University Hospital of the West Indies.

Early yesterday reports about panic buying in Bull Bay and the neighbouring community of Harbour View went viral on social media. There were also claims that Harbour View Primary School had closed because two children were showing signs of respiratory illness and had been taken into quarantine.

But when the Jamaica Observer visited the school yesterday afternoon, classes were still in session and principal Lawrence Wright dismissed the claims that the school had been shuttered because of COVID-19 fears.

“There is no truth to that rumour. We have not had to send home any child because of coughing or anything. We are open for businesses,” said Wright.

“Social media is a good place and such a dangerous place. There are persons who like to spread rumours. We just want people to know the whole truth and nothing but the truth,” he added.

He said the school has been preparing for COVID-19 through the assistance of the education ministry which announced that it was disbursing monies to schools for the procurement of additional stocks of sanitising agents.

Metres away from the school, Bull Bay resident “Fatty” told the Observer that she was among the attendees at the funeral in Harbour View on the weekend for the grandmother of the woman who has now tested positive for COVID-19.

According to Fatty, the church was overflowing so she was forced to stand at a side entrance and therefore did not have any direct contact with the woman or her family members, who she says she knows well.

“I am not panicking because I read and I know how this thing spread. I did not have any direct contact with her, although I took my grand-daughter to the same doctor on the day she was there, but I was first in the line and I did not touch them,” declared Fatty.

“Rocky”, who operates a bar close to the affected woman's family house, was also not worried about the possible spread of the virus in the community.

“The only thing is that mi wear gloves when mi ago sell somebody,” she said, adding that she did not get involved in the panic buying yesterday because she always has disinfectant, sanitiser and other cleaning products at home.

Rocky said the bar did brisk business after news broke that the woman had tested positive for the virus.

“Dem have this thing to say that white rum can fight the virus so mi had a whole heap of customers yesterday. You know some people don't read so dem tek news by word of mouth. What me read about it say it bother children, people over 60, and worse if you diabetic, have cancer, arthritis and those things.

“So dat a the reason why mi nuh panic because mi young and mi healthy,” said Rocky.

A few short metres away, a resident of Seven Miles, Bull Bay who gave her name only as “Millicent”, said she was worried sick.

According to Millicent, her two children where in class at Harbour View Primary School and she heard that an ambulance had gone with two of their schoolmates who had displayed signs of the virus.

Despite assurances from our news team that there was no truth to the claim, Millicent was adamant that she would be pulling her children from school “until the virus pass”.

“Mi not taking any chance with this thing,” she said.

“Mi mother gone to buy the masks, the gloves and the sanitiser, and as she come mi ago put them on,” she declared, adding that several of her neighbours were already wearing their dust masks when they left home yesterday morning.


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