AT least three of the six people who tested positive for COVID-19 in Cornpiece Settlement, Clarendon, are relatives of the 79-year-old man who was the first patient to succumb to the disease in the country.
This was confirmed by the man's 53-year-old stepson, who also tested positive for the virus and remains at home in isolation with his spouse and niece. They, too, have tested positive for COVID-19.
His mother, who is the 74-year-old widow of the deceased, is the only member of that household to test negative; however, she remains in quarantine at a government facility in Kingston.
Yesterday, director for the Emergency, Disaster Management and Special Services Branch at the Ministry of Health and Wellness (MOHW) Dr Nicole Dawkins-Wright told the Jamaica Observer that, despite the elderly woman's negative result, she must remain in quarantine for 14 days because she had contact with the three whose results returned positive.
But that decision is being challenged by the woman's son, who is insisting that the ministry has no right to hold her in quarantine for an additional 14 days, preventing her from returning to her home in the United States.
“We buy her ticket because we talk to the doctor in Kingston and dem say we can buy her ticket because she's a citizen of the United States. She's cleared. She did the test with us Sunday and she's cleared, so what is the problem? What dem waiting on, again? If she has the virus it would show in the test them. She wants to go home; she's tired of the whole drama.
“There's absolutely no reason to hold her. She has been here from the 12th, down by the house where the man dead and she leave come here at my house and she's over here over two weeks. We test together, they say we have it, she don't.
If she don't have it, what is the reason you holding her? She a US citizen over 20 years now. They don't have the right to hold her and is not like she sick. If she did sick or test positive I can understand, but she don't test positive or sick or nothing like that,” the man, who does not want to be identified, lamented in an interview with the Observer yesterday.
At the same time, he said although his and his relatives' results returned positive, they remain asymptomatic.
Initially, the children of the 79-year-old man who became the first COVID-19 fatality had denied that he had succumbed to the virus.
Health and Wellness Minister Dr Christopher Tufton on Wednesday announced the six new cases of COVID-19 in the community and said that Portland Cottage, another Clarendon community, is on the health authorities' radar.
On March 21, the Observer reported that the eldest daughter of the deceased man was allowed to return to her house elsewhere in the parish — despite being in direct contact with her father — without being quarantined.
Her house is located in Portland Cottage.
At that time, the woman told the Observer that although she was not instructed by health officials to self-quarantine, she made the decision to do so to protect other people.
Her revelation, at that time, raised questions about the efficacy of the tracing method being used by the health authorities.
Health officials are now monitoring 50 householders in Portland.
Meanwhile, the MOHW yesterday said that Jamaica now has 47 confirmed cases of COVID-19.
The new cases include a couple aged 73 and 79 years old with a travel history from New York and a 32-year-old male from Portland with no travel history.