There is a major standoff between health authorities and some residents in the Linstead area of St. Catherine who are refusing to undergo a third test to ascertain whether they have the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19).
The 16 complaining residents live in five households within a single premises.
They said they already tested negative on two occasions, but are now being told that a third test is necessary.
“We decided that we are not testing again. I don’t think we should be subjecting our bodies to so much testing… Everytime we’re tested, the babies have nose-bleeds for hours,” one of the residents told The Beacon this afternoon.
She said the first test was done on April 16; the second one took place 21 days later.
The residents said they were told about two weeks ago that they should undergo a third test at Linstead Health Centre. It was scheduled for last week Monday, June 8, but the residents boycotted it.
They stated that, as a result of them refusing to undergo a third COVID-19 test, the authorities are refusing to release them from home quarantine. “They said the way forward to get release form is that we have to be tested again. However, we already tested twice and we were negative,” one resident emphatically said.
The complaining residents of the five houses are not the only occupants of the premises in question.
There are two other houses at the location, but they both have confirmed COVID-19 cases – including an employee of Alorica call centre.
People living in the five households that have no confirmed case said they are being treated unjustly, due to the positive cases in the two neighbouring houses.
One of them explained: “We are being threatened with police – and this should not be so. For over 60 days, we, having being home, have to beg neighbours and friends and relatives from miles away to be getting our necessities because if we leave we’ll be fined one million dollars or one year in prison.
“We have babies here that need to go to the clinic; we can’t leave. The people that used to assist us now have to work. How will we survive? We can’t eat our money! We need help. This is frustrating,” the resident added.
Health authorities developed an interest in the Linstead premises because one of the 21 persons who live there is an employee of Alorica call centre, where there was an outbreak of the highly contagious COVID-19.
A resident explained: “We were tested for the Coronavirus due to the fact that one person from this [premises] works at the Alorica call centre. Sadly, she came back positive, but it took the health ministry 21 days to put her in isolation.
“Everybody at this [premises] was tested. The first test was done on April 16, 2020. At that time, four persons came back positive – all of which are from the same household… Twenty-one days after, we were tested again,” the resident further said.
The Beacon, in the meantime, is still trying to get a response from the health authorities.
Jamaica so far has 617 confirmed cases of the virus – including 420 recoveries and 10 deaths.
By Horace Mills, Journalist (B.A. degree in Media and Communications; CARIMAC, University of the West Indies)
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