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Too close for comfort - St Mary families in cramped homes have eyes on virus

Published:Friday | May 8, 2020 | 12:26 AMJudana Murphy/Gleaner Writer
Sandra Ferguson shows the outdoor bathroom her family of 10 is forced to use at her Annotto Bay, St Mary, home on Thursday.
Sandra Ferguson shows the outdoor bathroom her family of 10 is forced to use at her Annotto Bay, St Mary, home on Thursday.

Sandra Ferguson resides with her children and grandchildren in a concrete dwelling that is sectioned into four living quarters in the Fort George Road area of Annotto Bay.

With 10 of them sharing kitchen and bathroom facilities, Ferguson said minimising contact is almost impossible.

That is a major source of concern for homes overflowing with bodies in St Mary, where three communities – Dover, Enfield, and Annotto Bay – have been quarantined in the face of a spike in coronavirus cases in the parish.

Densely populated homes are at risk of contagion if the virus lays plague to tightly knit families – a matter raised by Port Maria Mayor Richard Creary when he pleaded for St Mary COVID-19 hotspots to be quarantined.

That answer came overnight Wednesday as soldiers took up positions during the 6 p.m.-6 a.m. curfew.

Ferguson’s family does not have the luxury of social-distancing ease.

“Wi nuh really keep nuh far distance from one another, but we try fi protect we self. We wash down the gate and sanitise the place and ensure di children dem wash dem hand regular,” she said.


They utilise an outside shower adjacent to the home, and a standpipe close by is the bathing area for the younger children.

The wearing of masks is mandatory in public spaces, but Ferguson has gone at length to safeguard the health of all members of her household.

The 53-year-old said it is her way of warding off the virus amid the space restrictions.

“Mi a tek it very serious. Di children dem a use mask for about a month now,” she said, pointing to three children in the yard who were sporting reusable cloth masks.

She noted that two of her daughters leave home daily for work and possibly encounter ailing or asymptomatic silent carriers of the virus.

“Dem can go out and contract it, and wi nuh know. When dem come in, we still entangle wid dem, so fi prevent that, mi mek the children wear mask and we wear mask,” she explained.

Ferguson said that she has done all she can and is leaving the rest up to God.

“We a prayer warrior, suh we nuh really worried. What is to be must be,” she told The Gleaner.

Meanwhile, another resident, Christine Angus, who lives in similar cramped quarters, welcomed the quarantine.

Angus, who is the head of the eight-member household, said she would be complying in order to flatten the curve.

About her confined living space, she said: “Mi cyah stop it ‘cause we live inna one. We mek di children dem wash dem hand regular and sanitise dem hand,” Angus said.