KINGSTON –– People living in the heavily populated communities neighbouring the Chest Hospital in St Andrew are not pleased at news that the government plans to build an Ebola quarantine unit on the hospital grounds.
“We keep hearing about these reports that a quarantine area is being constructed on the grounds of the medical facility and it is causing jitters in and around our communities. We want to hear from the health authorities to find out if there is any truth to what we hearing,” John Nelson, a resident of Barbican Terrace, told the Jamaica Observer yesterday.
“If this is true, we want to know why our area?” he said. “If they are talking about bringing the quarantine area to an isolated area why not Goat Island, away from the wider population?”
Nelson’s neighbours agreed.
“If there is any truth to the reports it would be senseless. We believe that a development such as that one should be placed far away from the population. Goat Island is a good idea,” said Agrian Nelson.
The residents said they wanted health officials to have a meeting with them on the issue.
Yesterday, attempts to get in touch with Dr Marion Bullock-DuCasse, director of Emergency, Disaster Management and Special Services, as well as Dr Kevin Harvey, acting permanent secretary of the Ministry of Health, were unsuccessful.
Calls to Harvey’s cellphone were answered by a text message that he was in a meeting.
However, a government official, who did not want to be named, told the Observer that the unit was to be built on the hospital grounds.
“This is senseless, the area is too populated; and based on how the government dealt with the chikungunya outbreak we are in fear,” said Nicholas Pessoa, another resident.
Added Mugabe Marks: “Right now, we believe that if there is any truth to such reports a quarantine area should be constructed far away from towns and other communities, somewhere like Goat Island would be ideal.”
Clifford Taffe, though, felt otherwise.
“If that is what the authorities decide, then it has to be built, and concerns would be raised in any community where it is constructed,” said Taffe, who told the Observer he was confident that the authorities would ensure that the area was secured.
Member of Parliament for Eastern St Andrew Andre Hylton yesterday said he had not been informed of the residents’ concerns, but explained that he would be willing to meet with them to discuss the issue.