By Elesha George
The government now has the job of transporting scores of people to the Jolly Beach Resort, after announcing that all residents infected with Covid-19 will no longer be allowed to quarantine at their private homes.
After almost a year of allowing Covid-positive persons to self-isolate, sometimes with others living inside the same home, the government has decided to implement new measures that will also stop the practice of home isolation.
Returning nationals were already denied the option of home quarantine upon arrival.
However, on Monday, Cabinet spokesman and Information Minister Melford Nicholas said the government recognises that “more needs to be done” to separate those persons from their families and to reduce the high risk of contagion, particularly as cases increase.
According to the Cabinet notes, “Home quarantine and home isolation will no longer be allowed. Residents who test positive for Covid-19 will not be returned home but are to be sent to a wing of the quarantine hotel set aside for infected persons; persons in the household of the infected resident are to be tested and may be required to quarantine at a government facility, wearing a bracelet.”
The latest published dashboard, which highlights data from February 13, shows 229 active Covid cases, 41 of which were in hospital, leaving potentially up to 188 infected people being treated at home.
These are the people who will have to be housed at a designated government quarantine facility, along with any additional cases that may be found in the days ahead.
The changes could not have come sooner for one family who told Observer that the home quarantine process is “inefficient”.
The family, which consists of public workers, said their experience has been less than satisfactory since one family member tested positive for the coronavirus.
The woman, who we will call ‘Jane’, told Observer that her brother tested positive for Covid-19 on January 21, at which time all five members of the family were ordered to quarantine at home.
Two days later, the remaining four family members were tested and were later informed that they were negative but were asked to remain in quarantine pending a second test.
The family member, who initially became infected from contact at work, received his test which showed that he was still positive.
However, it has been weeks since Jane said the other family members were tested and have not received their results, while they have been placed on two consecutive sick periods from work.
Jane told Observer that she tried calling health authorities countless times after no one made contact with them about their results.
When she finally reached a health official, she was unable to find out her test results, but was told that the authorities were not going to remove her brother from the home if he was not in distress. She said she was further advised that they could keep their distance from him to protect themselves.
Being unable to move from the home, Jane pointed out that they were not provided with personal protective equipment (PPE) and were given minimal advice on how to care for someone with Covid.
Observer was unable to reach quarantine officials for further comment.