Family members of Patient Zero, the first person to test positive for the novel coronavirus - COVID-19 - in Jamaica, say they have been subjected to harsh and unkind words by some members of the public.
"We just want people to know that my niece did not intentionally contract it and pass it on to anyone," said Jane Brown*, aunt of Patient Zero.
Brown said that the family has been targeted by persons who are constantly labeling them as the 'corona family'.
"I am worried now, God knows. Persons are targeting us and are pointing out our houses and saying that is where we live. No one has threatened us or anything but there are lots of talks, and while it doesn't bother me, the younger ones feel a way.
They have seen the comments on social media and some of them are really hurtful," Brown said.
Patient Zero came to Jamaica from the United Kingdom (UK) on March 4 to attend a funeral. She has been to sections of the Corporate Area, St Thomas as well as Clarendon. She tested positive for the mysterious virus on Monday and has been in isolation in a hospital.
Up to press time on Thursday, her condition was said to be stable. Some persons with whom she has made contact have been quarantined by health authorities.
Brown told the media that her niece was born in Jamaica but has lived in the UK since she was a youngster, and although she visited the island for a sad occasion, she was extremely happy to be reunited with her family.
"She was very happy. She didn't stay with me but we met at the funeral and after. Everyone was happy to see her," she said.
Brown, 66, is a diabetic and was scheduled to undergo tests on Thursday. She said that she does not have any flu-like symptoms but added that at least eight other family members have been quarantined.
"Persons from the Ministry of Health and Wellness visited us and so far at least eight of our family members have been quarantined. We are just trying to cope as a family. The children are out of school," she said, hours before the government made the decision to shutter learning facilities for two weeks to prevent the spread of the disease.
She stated that she has very little knowledge about her niece's condition, saying that she has not heard from her since was placed in isolation.
Brown urged the relevant authorities to release more literature on the virus as a means of educating the public.
"There are still a lot of persons who are taking it out of context and believe that once you contract it, you are going to die. I listen to the instructions and advice on the radio so I have a bit of knowledge about it," she said.
Brown said that her family is depending on their faith in God to take them through these trying times.
"We never really wanted this but right now all we can do is pray and ask God for help," she said. "We just have to be strong and ask God to have his way and deliver us," she said.
* Name changed to protect identity.