Hopewell market closes after confirmed coronavirus cases
ACTING ON a recommendation from the Hanover Health Department (HHD), the COVID-19-hit fruits and vegetable market in Hopewell, in the western parish, was closed on Wednesday, paving the way for a deep-cleaning and sanitisation exercise.
An alarm was raised by residents in the Hopewell community earlier this week about the continued use of the market in light of confirmed reports that at least three vendors at the facility had tested positive for the coronavirus.
Dr Kaushal Singh, the chief medical officer of health for Hanover, told The Gleaner on Monday that, on hearing the concerns of the residents, public health inspectors were immediately dispatched to the market to investigate and report back to the HHD.
“We have already advised the public health inspectors to go there and look into the situation, and when I get the report, I will decide what we will do,” Singh told The Gleaner, while noting that he would be making contact with the Hanover Municipal Corporation (HMC), which owns and operates the market, with a view of asking them to close the facility.
When The Gleaner visited the market on Wednesday, the vendors were absent and there were no signs of business taking place.
When David Gardner, the chief executive officer of the HMC, was contacted after the visit to the market, he confirmed that the facility was closed for sanitising and deep cleaning. He added that the action was taken as a result of a recommendation from the HHD.
“It (the market) was closed on the directive of both the HMC and the HHD,” said Gardner. “The real reason for the closure is that, once persons went there, who would have been either suspected or confirmed of having COVID-19, then as per our normal protocol, we would have to close the facility for deep cleaning and sanitising, so that is really the rationale behind the closure.”
While noting that the deep cleaning and sanitising work was slated to start on Wednesday, Gardner was not prepared to say for how long the market will be closed, only stating that once the work is completed the facility will be reopened.
Singh, on the other hand, was quite emphatic in stating that Hopewell is now a hotspot for COVID-19 in Hanover, pointing out that recent free COVID-19 sampling that was done by the HHD saw a large number of positive COVID-19 tests turning up.
Singh urged the residents of Hopewell and the wider parish to follow the health protocols that are in place, as the only hospital in the parish, the Noel Holmes Hospital, is now at its capacity as it relates to COVID-19 patients.