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St Mary on edge as St Catherine residents flee lockdown

Published:Saturday | April 18, 2020 | 12:10 AMCarl Gilchrist/Gleaner Writer

Residents of St Catherine, which is under a one-week lockdown to contain the spread of the coronavirus, are crossing the northern border into St Mary, heading to areas such as Port Maria and Galina, according to reports reaching The Gleaner.

Reports on Thursday night indicated that several persons, some with several pieces of luggage, had been seen moving into a number of communities in St Mary, putting residents on edge.

Since the Government announced the lockdown of St Catherine, which has recorded 58 of the island’s 143 cases up to yesterday, there have been several reports of persons fleeing the parish, seeking refuge as far as Hanover.

The St Mary police told The Gleaner that they have been getting reports of such movements within the parish over the last three days.

“We’ve heard of persons coming into the space in different areas in St Mary,” a police source said. “It’s more about people trying to escape the lockdown.”

“We try to assist [in notifying] the Ministry of Health when we hear of such persons. Whenever we can get direct addresses, we try to intervene, do some intervention in terms of questioning, but as far as that, there is nothing we can do,” the officer said. “We give the information to the Ministry of Health, and if it’s a case where they need our assistance, we assist them.”

Some residents are expressing concern over the migration into the northern parish, which has recorded one case of the coronavirus.

“It poses a threat to the community. Persons will not know if those coming in are carriers of the virus,” a resident of Sandside, on the outskirts of parish capital Port Maria, told The Gleane r.

“The police should investigate to determine if these reports are true, and if true, they should find the persons and put them in quarantine because mi nuh know what is wrong with Jamaicans,” she continued. “You must be sensible enough to know that it’s better you stay and find out than you run.”

She also condemned the persons who are accommodating those seeking refuge in St Mary.