St Ann woman in self-quarantine reveals frightening tale of machete wielders menacingly passing her houseSunday, April 12, 2020
BY SHARLENE HENDRICKS
A Jamaican woman who returned to the island on March 21 is facing the brunt of COVID-19 fear among residents in her community, even as she has been in self-quarantine for the last 21 days.
Aniesha Peart of Aboukir District in St Ann, in a telephone interview with the Jamaica Observer last week, described a frightful ordeal in which residents walked past her house with machetes, in a menacing fashion, speculating that she had caught the virus.
Peart, who works as a nail technician on a cruise ship, returned to Jamaica from Australia by way of Alaska, and San Francisco, USA.
She complained that the Government has been making “blanket statements” about some 5,000 Jamaicans who returned to the island between March 18 and 23 who have been deemed missing and said to be non-compliant with the self-quarantine requirements, fearing that this is only fuelling the discomfort of her neighbours.
“The ministry needs to let people know on the news that it is not everybody, because what they are saying makes it look like is everybody,” said Peart.
“You have people calling my phone, people in my community staring at me and spreading rumours, and I stay in my house and close my grille. One of di time two persons walk pass my house and they were saying that them hear that somebody in the community have coronavirus and they were walking with cutlass,” the woman added, in evident distress. “I am in my house, locked up by myself with the grille closed, feeling so stressed out,” she said.
Peart, who is also a mother, said that she has not been with her child since her return, following the advice she received from an officer in the Ministry of Health and Wellness who had contacted her.
“I have a child but I am by myself. It is very stressing but I watch the news and put service on my phone and try to talk with my family and comply with the rules, and counting down the days,” Peart said.
During a digital press conference on March 28, Prime Minister Andrew Holness warned that people who returned to Jamaica between March 18 and 23 and who were not complying with the self-quarantine requirements would be quarantined in government facilities and charged.
Before that, people in that category were also being urged to contact the Ministry of Health and Wellness.
However, Peart argued that at the airport she was told, in addition to self-quarantining for 14 days, to contact the Ministry of Health and Wellness only if she became symptomatic.
“We were only instructed with the piece of paper to call in if we have any symptoms and to stay home for 14 days. If these people don't have any symptoms, they are not going to call in. How can they say that these persons are missing?” she asked.
“If they reach me, how is it possible that they cannot reach the other persons, and I got a brochure just like everyone else? They told us to call in only if we have symptoms,” she stressed.
After 14 days in self-quarantine, Peart said that someone from the Ministry of Healt hand Wellness contacted her and told her to remain in self-quarantine for another seven days, although she was not showing any symptoms.
“While I was here at home I was a bit concerned because I know the virus doesn't always show symptoms, so I called the number on the paper they gave me at the airport. I got a woman and explained to her that I recently came and asked if I don't have any symptoms after the 14 days, am I to do a test to know that I am okay to go around my child.
“She said that I should take an extra day or two, and I should also go to the pharmacy and do a temperature check and with that, I will know if I am okay. Two days later, a woman from the health department called me to check up on me to find out if I am doing the correct thing. Then she told me that I should stay home for 21 days. Before that, everyone I spoke with told me that I should stay home for 14 days,” Peart said, complaining also that there has been some inconsistency in reaching the health and wellness ministry's COVID-19 phone lines.
“I had to phone the police station and I got four telephone numbers and I have been calling those four numbers — no one picked up. The piece of paper I got at the airport with the health alert notice number [876-633-7937], I called and got a gentleman who put me onto another line and it went straight to voicemail. I tried to call back, no answer,” said Peart.
To date, the woman said she has still not shown any symptoms and is now out of self-quarantine.
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