Palmetto Meadows residents complain


Palmetto Meadows residents complain

Senior staff reporter

Saturday, August 08, 2020

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RESIDENTS of the Palmetto Meadows housing scheme located in the Sandy Bay area of Clarendon have questioned why they are facing even tighter restrictions than other communities slapped with a 14-day quarantine because of a coronavirus outbreak.

When the Jamaica Observer visited the Sandy Bay area yesterday, which spans some 10 to 15 communities, according to medical officer of health for the Clarendon Health Department Dr Kimberly Scarlett-Campbell, a number of residents in the neighbouring Derby Terrace area were milling around freely. Some individuals said they were given the opportunity to leave the area to purchase groceries for that day while others converged on a makeshift testing area set up by health officials.

Checkpoints manned by the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) were observed at different parts of the main thoroughfare serving the area. However, the Palmetto Meadows area had two checkpoints of its own manned by the JDF. Those residents, the Observer was told, were not being allowed to leave their area at all.

One individual, who said he had used a “shortcut” to leave the scheme to purchase snacks at the only shop open at the adjoining community, questioned the difference in approach while complaining that health officials had provided no explanation.

He further complained that none of the residents had received any of the care packages which had been reportedly distributed by Ministry of Labour officials in other sections of the community.

“We just woke up to this; nobody said anything to us, we haven't received any of the care package. The only attention I see being placed is on Derby Terrace. I walk through the bush to reach here to go the one shop that is open. If you are going to lock down a scheme ensure that we get something to eat come around and talk to us,” he said.

When the Observer visited the scheme two individuals were seen handing bags of groceries to two householders, who stacked them into their motor vehicles which had been parked behind the security barriers manned by the JDF.

“I just came to drop off some groceries for my brother-in-law,” one individual told the Observer.

Yesterday, Warren Green, acting parish manager for the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, who led a team distributing care packages, told the Observer that 190 care packages had been distributed on Thursday and another 180 were to be handed out yesterday.

“We will be distributing every six days, and we are doing house-to-house visits.

“It's a very large community. The information we have gotten from the Ministry of Health is that there are 439 buildings, but that would include commercial and other buildings; so maybe about 400 houses,” he told the newspaper. He said the ministry has been receiving assistance from the Red Cross.

Palmetto Meadows residents, he said, should receive packages today. “We will be going back in that area tomorrow (today); there are some people who were not home, so we will be going through tomorrow (today),” he said.

Medical officer of health for the Clarendon Health Department Dr Kimberly Scarlett-Campbell, in the meantime, explained to the rationale behind the seemingly tighter restrictions for Palmetto Meadows.

“The difference between Palmetto and the other areas is that it is easier to close down than Derby, which is by the main, taxis stop there regularly. So we made a recommendation to the security forces to put a security post there to prevent persons from leaving. It was too easy for them to leave. Palmetto Meadows has a back road where persons can escape. There is one [exit] where you can head to Old Harbour, and another where you can escape to May Pen, so we had to block both sides; that is why you end up where persons are trapped in-between,” she explained.

She, however, declined to say whether health officials were also keeping closer tabs on the area because of suspected or confirmed cases of COVID-19.

“You know I can't comment on that,” she said in response to queries.

Yesterday, Dr Scarlett-Campbell said there were some 29 active cases in the parish so far.

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