Quarantine quagmire

Quarantine quagmire

Daughter of COVID-19 death victim points to tracing system weakness

BY KIMONE FRANCIS
Senior staff reporter
francisk@jamaicaobserver.com

Saturday, March 21, 2020

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The eldest daughter of the 79-year-old Clarendon man who died after testing positive for the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) says although she has not been instructed by health officials to self-quarantine, she has taken the decision to do so to protect other people.

Her revelation has raised questions about the efficacy of the tracing method being used by the health authorities.

In a phone interview with the Jamaica Observer yesterday, the woman — whom we will not identify — divulged that she had been in direct contact with her father who arrived in the island with his wife, son and grandson from New York on Thursday, March 12.

He died days later while in isolation at hospital, becoming the first person to succumb to the disease in the country.

“No one come to me as yet, but I put myself on quarantine. I'm not coming out. I've decided to stay out the 14 days. When he came I went there Friday and he was sleeping, and in the day he woke up and I went in to him and he talked to me, and I left and I come home,” the woman, who lives in the parish, shared.

She said she returned to the family home on Monday after learning that her father's health had deteriorated significantly and, along with her brother, accompanied him to Lionel Town Hospital in the parish.

The woman said, after leaving the hospital, she returned to the family residence in Cornpiece settlement, also in Clarendon, where health officials subsequently visited on Wednesday and checked each family member's temperature before she was allowed to return to her home in another district in the parish.

“They asked me who and me live in my house, because they said they were going to come to my house. So I ask them if them is going to test me (check temperature) again, but they said no, because I've been tested already. I don't see anyone come, so I just keep here. Everybody was tested and everybody was fine. So mi just decide fi stay in since as them have the rumour talking and spreading. I know that if I even come out I can't go in no taxi because no taxi naah go carry me, so I just decide fi keep in,” she told the Observer, insisting that her father did not die from the virus.

“No, I'm not convinced is it... I don't believe it is it. I don't believe. He [had] his complicated sickness, so I don't believe is no corona; I don't believe it. But, as mi seh, even if a it, him dead already, and if a nuh it him dead already. So mi just call it a loss. I lost my father,” she added.

At the same time, she said the family members who had arrived in the island with the deceased are in quarantine.

On Thursday, Prime Minister Andrew Holness told the House of Representatives that the decision to quarantine a section of Cornpiece was taken after the family members of the deceased refused to cooperate with Ministry of Health and Wellness (MOHW) officials, having been in contact with deceased and residents in the rural community.

Holness said on Wednesday a public health team visited Cornpiece, where family members were generally uncooperative and refused to be quarantined without documented proof that the deceased had tested positive for COVID-19.

He said, in collaboration with the health authorities, the director general of the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management had given directives to regulate the movement of people, animals and vehicles into, out of, and within Cornpiece, effectively placing the community under quarantine for 14 days to allow for the public health investigations to continue.

The deceased had arrived in the island from New York on JetBlue flight No 2959. All passengers on that flight have since been asked to self-identify to authorities.


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