Bull Bay under wraps … Residents anxious to be cleared after 14-day quarantine
There was an eerie calm over Seven Miles in Bull Bay, St Andrew, yesterday, as members of the security forces stood guard at key entrance and exit points of the area now under quarantine, as the Government ramps up measures to stem the spread of COVID-19.
When the Sunday Gleaner team visited yesterday, there was evidence of the restricted movement placed on the community. Hardly any vehicle or persons were allowed in or out of certain areas, particularly Morales Drive, where tight-lipped soldiers and police, some with masks on, guarded with vigilance.
Late Friday evening, Prime Minister Andrew Holness declared communities in Seven Miles and Eight Miles, Bull Bay, bordering St Andrew and St Thomas, a quarantine zone for 14 days, curtailing movement.
Patient Zero, a Jamaican visiting from the United Kingdom, arrived in the island on March 4 for the funeral of Gloria Clarke three days later, and was staying in the area. Authorities are now tracking more than 30 people who have had direct and close contact with Patient Zero.
With some eight confirmed cases of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) and the health ministry now tracking between 200 and 300 persons who may have come in contact with the patients across the parishes of Kingston, St Andrew, St Thomas, Clarendon, St James and St Ann, Jamaica has been declared a disaster area under the Disaster Risk Management Act Declaration of Disaster Area Order 2020.
Yesterday, however, Holness sought to clarify his position on his Twitter page, noting that he was not calling Jamaica a disaster area, but was in fact describing COVID-19 as a disaster.
RESIDENTS BEING FED
The Sunday Gleaner was told yesterday that in spite of the strict measures in Bull Bay, the needs of the residents were being met, while they are closely monitored for symptoms of the respiratory virus.
Along the Bull Bay main road, the operation was less restrictive, as there was freedom of movement and many residents continued their usual routines, which included buying and selling.
Carlene Simpson, an elderly diabetic of Shooters’ Hill, which is close by Morlaes Drive, the area practically under lockdown, said she was taking no chances with the coronavirus, as she regularly disinfects her living space.
She revealed, however, that last week she could have compromised herself, having visited very close to the area where the first confirmed coronavirus case was identified.
“I work on the road. Mi cousin tell mi seh dem a give away building materials and I was going to check about it. When I reach near a yard in Seven Miles, them seh I mustn’t go any further because the place taminate. Mi seh ‘Jesus Christ’ and I didn’t push it any further,” she told The Sunday Gleaner.
“Is long after I see the lady come out with the mask and mi just tek weh mi self. From that, mi try keep inna mi house. Mi hear dem seh people with diabetes and asthma must be careful. Dem seh we must wash hands round the clock as best as possible when we finish what we doing. Me a try fi keep up with what dem seh and mi a beg God keep mi out of it because my sickness cannot match with that.”
‘Swag’, a dreadlocked from the Shooters’ Hill community, who was shovelling marl on the road, described the events as a state of paranoia among residents and members of the security forces posted at checkpoints or those patrolling the general Bull Bay area.
“Police a do different work now. Dem naa touch nobody. Friday night, dem pass through. Normally we can’t be on the corner, but now, dem naa interact with nobody, because dem don’t even waa touch we,” he said.
“People all mask up and de security nuh seh nothing. Normally you can’t pass them mask up, but people can mask up and pass them now, because the security forces paranoid too. To tell you the truth, people strap down around here. You lucky enough to come and see me out here like this.”
Though not scared, Kemar Howell who lives off the Bull Bay main road, along the coastline, said he, his wife and four children mostly stay inside as a precaution. He said he wasn’t worried, as there were no local deaths from the virus.
“My four kids are inside and they are not coming out. We don’t want them to mix and mingle. My big daughter makes sure nobody can come into our house because she doesn’t want anything to happen to the family.”