By Orville Williams
One resident – who is currently uncertain of her Covid-19 status – is expressing skepticism toward the country’s testing and contact tracing process, after coming into contact with someone who has since tested positive.
Speaking to Observer yesterday, *Sarah* explained that she came into contact with *Mary* on January 10, when she gave her a ride from the Mount St John’s Medical Centre (MSJMC) where she had gone to be checked after feeling ill.
Mary confirmed the same, saying she thought she was developing cold or flu symptoms simply due to climate conditions.
According to Mary, upon her visit to the hospital, she was checked by medical personnel and told that she ‘did not seem to have’ symptoms of Covid-19, but could – like she had assumed – be suffering from a cold or flu. She said she was then told to take some supplements and rest.
Meanwhile, a week after she came into contact with Mary, Sarah said she began to feel ill and went to work on Monday, January 18. However, she was told to return home due to her visibly illness.
On that same Monday, Mary said she went to the Clare Hall Clinic — because she was displaying more severe symptoms than before – where a doctor administered a test for Covid-19.
Sent home just the day before for her condition, Sarah said she called out of work on Tuesday, as her condition had not changed.
On Thursday January 21, Mary said she was contacted by the same doctor from the clinic, who advised her that the test had returned positive and that someone from the Health Ministry would contact her with further details.
That call, she said, came soon afterward from a nurse who told her that she would need to isolate and asked who she had been in contact with around the time she got tested. Mary said she assumed those contacts wouldn’t have included Sarah, since she was not aware of her Covid-19 positive status when they were in close proximity, and the medical personnel at MSJMC had told her that she seemed not to have the virus.
Nevertheless, she said she called Sarah to make her aware of her diagnosis.
Sarah said she then took it upon herself to visit Clare Hall — the same clinic where Mary had gotten tested — to get a test done herself. She explained that she arrived at the clinic after 11 am on the same January 21, but was told that 11 am was the “cutoff time” for seeing the doctor. She said she was also told that if she wanted a Covid-19 test, she should go to the hospital.
Sarah continued that she subsequently went to see a private doctor, who told her that her symptoms seemed similar to those of Covid-19, prescribed her supplements – including Vitamin C – and encouraged her to get tested as soon as possible. She said she called the Covid-19 hotline on January 25, but could not get through and so she continued to self-quarantine, before visiting the hospital this week, on February 2.
At the MSJMC, she said she was told by someone in the ‘billing section’ that the hospital doesn’t do Covid-19 testing unless the person is an outbound traveler.
That same employee, she said, advised her to go to the emergency department to see if she could get a test done through there, or go back to the clinic, as the clinic “knows better” than to send persons to the hospital to get tested.
Meanwhile, Mary said she received a second call on Sunday, January 31 – since being made aware of her Covid-19 status – from the same nurse attached to the Ministry of Health. She said the nurse told her she would be retested on Monday and indeed she was visited at home by Health Ministry personnel who administered a second test, for which she is still awaiting the results.
Sarah said she returned to the Clare Hall Clinic yesterday, where she explained her situation to the personnel there and insisted that she get tested. She said the person(s) she spoke to reached out to a doctor – who is presumably attached to the clinic – who said they don’t do voluntary testing and only test as part of contact tracing. She said the doctor advised that she should try to contact the Covid-19 hotline.
Up to the time both women spoke with Observer yesterday, Mary said she was still awaiting the results of her second test, having been isolated since she did her first test on January 18.
Sarah on the other hand, said has not yet gotten tested, but has been away from work on sick leave as given by her doctor.
Sarah added that although she is unaware of her Covid-19 status, she has been acting responsibly by keeping away from other persons and taking the supplements to treat her symptoms. She admitted though, that the anxiety of not knowing has been increasing and with only so many days of sick leave left, she is concerned about how her return to work will go.
She assured that she would continue to contact the Covid-19 hotline to try to get tested, but said it was regrettable that in the face of such a serious health crisis, bureaucracy was standing in the way of properly protecting herself and her community.
Efforts to contact the Ministry of Health for clarity on the procedure for people in the same position as Sarah were unsuccessful up to press time.
*names changed to maintain anonymity*