Falmouth hospital board chair knocks residents flouting COVID-19 protocols

Observer West reporter

Thursday, July 16, 2020

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FALMOUTH, Trelawny — Chairman of the board of the Falmouth Public General Hospital Kenneth Hugh Grant has strongly condemned the behaviour of individuals in the parish who have discontinued the wearing of face masks, and are flouting other COVID-19 protocols such as social distancing.

“I am seeing in parts of Trelawny, including the hills [southern Trelawny], where persons have increasingly stopped wearing masks in the public spaces. And this is of serious concern to me. I have seen instances where people are going back to big set-ups [wakes] at nights,” Grant noted.

He made reference to a recent report coming out of a Jamaican community in South Florida where over 12 people who were among a group in attendance at a birthday party contracted the disease after imprudently discarding their masks.

“A second round may be coming and all the advances that we have made can just be wiped out within a week. I just read what happened in Florida where they had a party where Jamaicans contracted the virus. It is really sad, very sad,” he bemoaned.

Fearing a spike in the number of positive cases, Grant, who is also the president of the Trelawny Lay Magistrates Association, is advocating for stiffer penalties for people who pay scant regard to the wearing of masks in public domain.

“Enough is not being done to curtail these things [non-compliance with health protocols], in my opinion. They need to be curtailed because God forbid, if we have a second wave, it would be deadly. I am really concerned about it! I don't know if we need to put a law in place to force people to wear masks. But we can't relax the thing right now,” Grant argued.

His grave concerns come within days of Diahann Dale's, the medical officer of health at the Trelawny Health Department, telling revelation that since the reopening of the Jamaican borders, health officials, with the assistance of the police, have been kept busy thwarting efforts by people determined to attend funerals, days after returning from overseas.

“We have had to actively, with the police, prevent people [returning residents] from going to funerals because they decide to be defiant of the orders and are very explicit to the public health officers and the police officers of their intent,” Dale revealed.

“We are making observations that there are some of our residents returning from the United States of America, which is currently a very high-risk area by virtue of the upturn of COVID infection outbreaks in that setting. And they return to our shores today, with a view to go to a funeral tomorrow or the day after. It is important that we all acknowledge that if such is allowed, risk for widespread community outbreak will be significant.”

The Ministry of Health and Wellness has mandated that people, who have returned home or are visiting the island, remain in quarantine for 14 days, to guard against spread of COVID-19.

Meanwhile, Grant is calling for all hands on deck to rev up an educational campaign for individuals to adhere to established health protocols, including the wearing of masks in public.

“Right now we need an intensification of efforts to go back to public campaign with the use of PA [public address] systems, using the health workers to increase home visits, visit institutions and drive it in people's head that they should wear masks, especially in public spaces. Places should be washed and sanitised and social distance maintained. I hear people now saying 'it gone, it not coming back'. How they get this idea, I don't know,” Grant said.

He added: “We need all stakeholders to participate in such a renewed educational drive, including all justices of the peace, ministers of religion...we have to take this thing seriously.”

Dr Dale, who was speaking at the recent monthly general meeting of the Trelawny Municipal Corporation (TMC) in Falmouth, implored members of the local authorities to lead from front by adhering to the COVID-19 safety protocols.

For his part, chairman of the TMC, Councillor C Junior Gager thanked the Ministry of Health and other stakeholders for their resolute fight against the spread of COVID-19.

“I would like to say thanks to the ministry of health for working closely with the municipal corporations in monitoring COVID -19, especially in Trelawny,” said Gager, who is also mayor of Falmouth.

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