The lockdown of St Catherine declared by Prime Minister Andrew Holness on Tuesday is already taking its toll on some residents of the parish, particularly the dispossessed.
Men, women and children in Ellerslie Pen, Spanish Town, all have the same complaint.
They said the lockdown has severely restricted their already limited capacity to earn a living and that it has hit them very hard.
“We hungry,” shouted a young man, as the Gleaner team made its way through the community that sprang up during the late 1980s into the 1990s on lands owned by the Jamaica Railway Corporation. The area is commonly known as Capture Land.
“Coronavirus may not even get a chance to kill us, because hunger is real inside here,” said Isaiah Blake.
His mother, who said she would only speak on condition of anonymity, said she works at Seprod and described the state of affairs inside one of St Catherine’s poorest communities, as “dread”.
She said that among the scores of poor, unemployed youth, there are several elderly people living in the community without any form of sustained assistance.
“It’s desperate out here. There are many old people in this community alone. The shutdown now makes it worse. We understand why still, but we expected even a word from certain people that we not getting,” the concerned woman observed.
“We can’t tell when last we see the MP (member of parliament). I think it’s a shame, especially since this virus a spread,” she said.
Calls made to Olivia Grange, MP for the area, went unanswered.
Further, the community is home to at least 12 pig farmers. They too are calling for special attention.
Desmond Williams, a 52-year-old pig farmer, said that the community has been left on its own. “Nobody comes around here,” he said, adding that “only the soldier dem we see since this lockdown. Money done, we can’t go market because that too lockdown, so I had to sell three of my pigs recently to get some money to buy food,” he said.
Mother of six, Maxine Boothe, who suffers from Kidney disease and who only returned home after a session at the Spanish Town Hospital for dialysis on Thursday, is also concerned.
She said given her health status, she is afraid of what COVID-19 could mean for her family if they are not compliant with information on how to remain safe.
“It rough bad; we nuh have it. A hungry time. Is the first I’m seeing anything like this in my entire life,” she said.