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Quarantine demand for St Mary virus hotspots

Published:Tuesday | May 5, 2020 | 12:00 AMJudana Murphy/Gleaner Writer
Customers cluster outside a Western Union remittance outlet in Port Maria, St Mary, on Monday. Mayor Richard Creary is concerned that St Mary residents are paying scant regard to social-distancing protocols.
Port Maria Mayor Richard Creary has called for two communities to be quarantined.

Port Maria Mayor Richard Creary has urged the Government to quarantine two St Mary communities that recorded a total of six new COVID-19 cases on Sunday.

Creary was particularly concerned that those who tested positive were reportedly asymptomatic – meaning they were silent carriers of the coronavirus disease.

“It was due to contact tracing why they were tested as opposed to having symptoms. It is frightening!” the mayor exclaimed.

He declined to name the communities.

Of Jamaica’s 471 cases, St Mary has the fourth highest number – 15.

There have been nine fatalities nationwide and 49 recoveries.

“We don’t know how many other persons, even in that particular locale, that are asymptomatic, but contact tracing would not have picked them up, so I am of the view that we are going to have a larger number of cases in the parish,” the mayor told The Gleaner yesterday.

Health officials, Creary said, are challenged by residents who are not being truthful about their whereabouts.

“Some persons flatly refused to have their temperature checked. The police had to be called in and they were asked to do so,” he said.

“I was told that even after the temperatures were taken, people were just in clusters, out on the streets walking about their business without masks,” he said of the health workers’ ordeal on Sunday.

The mayor said that the municipal corporation has employed various means of communicating the importance of social distancing but crowding persisted in town centres and communities.

Town criers

Following weekly parish disaster committee meetings, the corporation had installed posters in most public spaces and the Social Development Corporation had deployed town criers throughout the parish.

Creary expressed concern that cultural behaviours may be blunting the message of social distancing in towns and markets. He also said that the government-ordered distance – where persons should be six feet apart – was near impossible in some households with as many as 15 persons sharing close living quarters.

The mayor said that a gambling house that attracted large gatherings in one of the hotspot communities was now under police scrutiny.

Isolation wards have been identified in St Mary hospitals, Creary said, while seeking to assure that health centres were equipped to conduct the necessary checks.