‘Free at last!’ - Bull Bay happy to be out of quarantine, stigma but still concerned about spread of coronavirus
“Free at last! Free at last!” one man shouted to The Sunday Gleaner team as he drove past on Morales Drive, heading out of Bull Bay, St Andrew, yesterday.
Grinning from ear to ear, he sped off down the road.
In the early hours of Saturday, March 14, when soldiers barged into their community on orders from Prime Minister Andrew Holness to quarantine sections of Seven and Eight Miles on the border of St Andrew and St Thomas, residents were very apprehensive.
Jamaica’s first confirmed case of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) was a female visiting from the United Kingdom who had spent some time in that area.
Her diagnosis was confirmed on March 10, and days later, the area was placed under lockdown for 14 days to stem the spread of the deadly virus, which was first detected in China in December last year.
The quarantine order was lifted yesterday even as the Government told the nation on Friday night that eight persons from the area who are exhibiting symptoms still remained in isolation. Some persons were also recommended for home quarantine.
Yesterday, residents admitted to The Sunday Gleaner that although they understood the need for the stringent measures, they were happy that their movements were no longer restricted.
Many said, however, that they remained on high alert as COVID-19 was still a clear and present danger to Jamaica.
Others are happy that the stigma has been lifted from the community.
“People can stop scorn we now. At first, because of the restriction of movement, we weren’t happy, but they couldn’t have given us a heads-up because most people would have left. Eventually, people started to realise that it was for the best even though it played on our minds. It really could have spread if there was actually a case in the community,” said Susanette Facey, who was busy painting her front-yard grille in the Morales Drive area.
“Right now, we are still to do the right thing. Not because we are free, we can go anywhere. We just have to take precaution same way.”
Junior Thompson, who was refurbishing a house next door to Facey’s, said he was happy that the restrictions no longer existed and shared that doctors and nurses accompanied a Ministry of Health & Wellness team to the community yesterday to check each resident.
He was glad to be clean.
“I feel very joyful. Some nurses pass through. Dem check mi and mi cooperate,” said Thompson.
Though he has the go-ahead to travel outside the area, Enos Whollery said he was staying put.
He, however, complained that for the two weeks under quarantine, he only received one care package from the Government, which was his only problem.
“It was wise for them to lift it because them come and don’t find anybody wid it. Me still naa tek no chance fi go a road, though,” Whollery stated.
“The first week we got food, but all of the second week, nuh food nuh come een. The first week, we got a package of rice, flour and cornmeal, corned beef, Lasco mackerel. But my family is a family of five.”
On March 19, Cornpiece in Clarendon was also placed under quarantine for 14 days. This is the community where the first patient to die from COVID-19 in Jamaica had been staying. He was visiting from the United States.
Jamaica now has 32 confirmed cases of COVID-19. To date, the respiratory virus has infected 650,926 persons, with approximately 30,299 deaths in over 202 countries across the world. So far, approximately 139,555 persons have recovered.