Dozens of returning residents held in quarantine

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By Machela Osagboro

Disturbing allegations have surfaced insinuating woeful unpreparedness of facilities being used to quarantine scores of people who arrived into Antigua on Thursday’s British Airways, Air Canada and JetBlue flights.

Up to press time last night, 88 people were being held at the Hawksbill resort – 90 percent of whom are returning nationals.

Several had spent the night at another hotel but were moved the next day due to an apparent lack of provisions to cope with them, health officials told a press conference on Friday.

One passenger, June Fortune, told Observer that safety and social distancing protocols were not observed during the journey from the airport to the resorts.

“So, you say you want to keep us safe, but there were policemen out there with no gloves, no face mask, nothing. If anyone on the flight was infected, everybody would have caught it,” she said.

“Everyone was jumbled up together, talking together, no social distancing. There was no sort of order so the policeman could bring it to their families.”

Fortune arrived on the JetBlue flight B6-743 yesterday and was told she would be placed under mandatory quarantine at the Halcyon resort for 14 days.

“Nobody said anything to us, like say, this is what it’s gonna be and let us prepare ourselves for what is to come. I don’t have a problem with quarantine but do it properly, put the right and proper procedures that people will follow. They didn’t say they are gonna test you or nothing; we are just here waiting.”

The woman continued that passengers were confined to their rooms with sparse information. Breakfast was “a box with dry bread, egg, and apple and that’s it”.

A source reported that several passengers were held at the airport until about 7pm on Thursday night. Some passengers claimed that the police escorting them were hostile – one even said she was trying to retrieve her luggage but was aggressively pushed aside.

The source said the passengers were sent to their rooms at the Hawksbill resort and served a paltry meal of rice and chicken. He said some complained that no doctor or medical professional had been sent to visit them to carry out routine checks. The man said the only health personnel the passengers saw were at the airport when they arrived.

The man said some travellers reported that all they were given for breakfast was lukewarm tea.

He claimed some passengers were told their family and friends could bring them food and supplies.  This, he said, contradicts the purpose of quarantine as it increases the chance of the virus spreading. Ministry of Health officials could not be reached for additional comment.

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