Sat | Jan 23, 2021

St Catherine residents shun COVID testing

Published:Monday | November 30, 2020 | 12:09 AMRuddy Mathison/Gleaner Writer
Health workers in personal protective gear prepare to administer COVID tests to residents of Tawes Meadows who came out for testing on Saturday.
Health workers in personal protective gear prepare to administer COVID tests to residents of Tawes Meadows who came out for testing on Saturday.

The community surveillance and testing for COVID-19 by the Ministry of Health and Wellness has been receiving moderate response from residents in St Catherine.

With some 14 communities visited so far, Marlene Stephenson, senior public health nurse for the parish, told The Gleaner that this response is not what they were expecting.

“Persons are not coming out because of stigma. Some say they are afraid of putting the swab up their nostrils because of a belief that they will contract the virus just by swabing their nose,” Stephenson revealed.

“Other persons are refusing on the basis that they have to take care of their family, and if they test positive, there is no one to care for their family when they have to isolate,” she continued.

According to Stephenson, another challenge the health team encountered is a strong view expressed by some residents that they would rather not know their status, and if they have any suspicions, they would use home treatment.

She disclosed that most of the cases coming out of the communities are asymptomatic, so persons don’t know that they are carrying the virus and, therefore, they can infect others.

The community of Tawes Meadows was on Saturday added to the list of areas where surveillance and testing have been carried out.

“Our aim is to saturate the community, conducting public education, handing out flyers and encourage people who are displaying symptoms, and those who are not, to visit the bus for testing,” Stephenson stated.

COVID FIGURES NOT READILY AVAILABLE

She was not able to say how many persons have been tested so far in the 14 communities visited, or whether the parish was seeing an increase or a decline in cases, as the figures were not readily available.

“What I can say is that we were not testing everyone that were in contact with persons who are positive, so it is difficult to say what is the level of infection,” Stephenson added.

She said the department continues to do public education and encourages contacts of positive cases to come in for testing, and if they are positive, isolation is recommended.