Virus deaths stalk western Jamaica
COVID-19 left a trail of death in its path in western Jamaica last weekend, taking with it a high-school teacher, two family-operated gas station proprietors, an auto parts worker, and a popular boutique owner.
The diverse profiles of the deceased are an index of the dynamic of the coronavirus, which has had brutal consequences for every demographic, regardless of class.
Mourning touched the homes of families throughout St James, Hanover, Westmoreland and Trelawny between last Friday and Monday.
The toll in Montego Bay included Mt Alvernia High School accounts teacher Kesha Whyte and David and Subs' Dave Wint; RUBiS service station's Lecia Tardiel-Samuels, Texaco's Shirley Madden, Mic Mar's Mike Bacchas, and an officer helper in Westmoreland named June.
Bacchas' wife Marcia died Monday, August 16, while he succumbed to complications of COVID-19 last Saturday in Savanna-la-Mar.
Still in shock and disbelief, Mt Alvernia principal Kayon Whyne said the 11th-grade instructor, who taught principles of business, was one of the school's greatest assets and an excellent accounts teacher.
“Kesha was very diligent, very involved, always giving of her time and service, not just academically, but extra-curricular. Frequently out with the athletes, even at Champs,” she told The Gleaner.
Whyne described Whyte, who passed on Sunday, as humble and pleasant. Whyte, a past student of Mt Alvernia High, has been caring for her young sibling since the passing of their mom.
The academic staff were inconsolable on Sunday, with many of them lauding their former colleague for her commitment to education.
Quiet, humble, caring
Wint, who operated three boutiques between Whitter Village and Fairview Shopping Complex in Montego Bay and Ocho Rios, was loved by millennials, who were mainly his clientele. His boutique was the go-to shop for parties, formal ball wear, and cocktail receptions.
The 45-year-old businessman died on Sunday morning at the St Ann's Bay Hospital.
“He was quiet, humble, caring, and ambitious, and he had a lot of international clients who depended on him to dress them,” his friend of 10 years, Tiffany Hines, told The Gleaner.
Wint is survived by wife Sabrina and two sons.
Tardiel-Samuels passed away on Monday morning at the Savanna-la-Mar Public General Hospital.
“She worked hard, was a great example for young people, and a product of the soil. Her death has sent shock waves throughout the parish,” said Richard Wallace, president of the Negril Chamber of Commerce, who has known her since she was in high school.
More than 62,700 infections have been recorded in Jamaica, with the highest 24-hour total, 879, registered on Sunday.
Deaths have passed the 1,400 mark.
As hospitals buckle under pressure, the Westmoreland Chamber of Commerce and Industry has sent out an urgent appeal to doctors in the private sector, retired physicians, nurses and other healthcare professionals to give a hand to health centres and hospitals.
The chamber's vice president, Cosmond K. Jackson, said that the parish is being severely affected by the increase in the number of COVID-19 cases amid a record surge in infections that have swept the island.
“The resources in the healthcare sector are depleting and the healthcare workers are overwhelmed with their duties. This is impacting on patient care.”