Bereaved family tell of quarantine trauma

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A family of four who flew into Antigua for a family funeral and have been placed in quarantine at the Hawksbill resort say they are having a hard time coping at the facility.

Jackie Gage-Mercado, her husband and two daughters aged three and four, arrived into the country late on Monday night. Mercado said the frustration began early on when the family was informed that they would be staying at the Hawksbill – a government-designated quarantine venue – instead of the guesthouse they had booked.

She said she was taken aback that her family was chosen to be quarantined as she was under the impression that non-nationals would be given a rapid test for Covid-19 before being transported to their respective hotels.

Mercado is Antiguan but her husband and children are US citizens.

“It seems like it was selective,” she told Observer. “We were expedited out of the line and, upon asking where we were staying, it was an issue. I was told some people were being quarantined or should be quarantined, and the tourists were to be quarantined in their hotel rooms but however we were not able to quarantine in our guesthouse.

“I spoke to the Minister of Health and explained to him that this is not a social visit and that my mom had passed away and we were hoping to get here before she died and I am here to make funeral arrangements. But that didn’t have any effect and I was told that there is no Covid in Antigua and that is why everyone has to be quarantined for 14 days.”

She explained that the guesthouse where she and her family had planned to stay had a separate entrance from the rest of the building and was perfect to self-isolate. Instead, they were tested and had to wait an hour before boarding a bus. It then took another hour before they left for the Hawksbill hotel.

At that point, Mercado said her frustration grew even more as there was no food or water provided for her family – either at the airport or at the hotel that night.

The next morning temperatures were checked, and the family was informed that they were on a list to leave the facility but “nothing else has happened since”.

Despite the tribulations, Mercado said her biggest concern was the fact that there were no protocols in place for children or for people with emergencies. Her arrangements for dealing with her deceased mother have also been forcibly placed on hold.

 “You cannot quarantine small children for 14 days, or people who have an emergency where I have to plan a funeral, for 14 days. I understand we must keep the nation safe, but I can’t plan my mother’s funeral. I am here to sort out her funeral arrangements and get my dad situated and then return home,” she added.

Minister of Health Molwyn Joseph could not be reached for comment.

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