COVID-19 claims lives of RADA Westmoreland parish manager, secretaryThursday, September 02, 2021
BY ANTHONY LEWIS
LLANDILO, Westmoreland — Westmoreland continues to reel from the number of people in the parish who have died from the novel coronavirus in recent days.
Among the latest deaths are Westmoreland Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) Parish Manager Roan Vassel and secretary Brenda Behaire.
Vassel, 52, passed away on Monday, while Behaire died two days earlier.
Coincidentally, the parish office has been closed since August 17 as the over 30 employees were reportedly infected by the virus, within days.
The brutality of the highly transmissible virus did not stop there, as Vassel's wife was reportedly later infected.
While Vassel, who worked at RADA for over 20 years after graduating from the College of Agriculture, Science and Education (CASE) in 1999, was doing far much better than his wife a week ago, things later took a turn for the worse for the parish manager.
Member of Parliament (MP) for Westmoreland Western Morland Wilson told the Jamaica Observer West that the sudden passing of Vassel will negatively impact some of the agricultural programmes that were being considered for the parish.
“For the short time that I became Member of Parliament, we have developed a very good relationship. We both have a vision for agriculture which we were working quite diligently to bring to like and make Westmoreland an area where we are putting persons who are interested in farming into production, specifically during this COVID time,” said Wilson, as he reflected on the parish manager's death.
“We had several programmes that we were pushing, but all of that has now come to a premature end because of the COVID virus.”
Among the programmes that were being worked on are sheep production, the cultivation of pineapple, dasheen and the rearing of freshwater Tilapia fish.
Both Behaire and Vassel were not vaccinated.
According to Wilson, their passing underscores the importance of being vaccinated as the parish manager had reportedly told him, 'mi nuh ready yet as I am a bit scared due to all of the information. So, I will wait and see.'
President of the Negril Chamber of Commerce Richard Wallace was equally shocked at the passing of the duo.
“People that you know, people that you grow up with are dying from COVID and it is hitting home and it makes us realise how serious the [novel coronavirus] pandemic is and how important it is for us to mitigate against it in whatever way we can, such as social distancing and getting the vaccine, most importantly,” stated Wallace.
“The assistant [secretary] from RADA, we went to school together at Manning's [School] back in the 70s. So, it is people who you know who are dying and it is frightening,” added the chamber president.
Approximately two weeks ago, COVID-19 claimed the lives of three gas station operators, while a nurse supervisor at the Savanna-la-Mar Public General Hospital died on Monday.
On Tuesday, the parish recorded 32 new cases of COVID-19 and five virus-related deaths.
Besides, since March 2020, the parish has recorded more than 4,200 cases of the virus.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Health and Wellness reported that the island recorded 351 new COVID-19 cases and 31 deaths on Tuesday, bringing the island's infection total to 68,482 and virus death toll to 1,549.