Declaring a fear that she might not get “a fair test” for coronavirus, a member of World Harvest Ministries International, the St Peter church at the centre of the latest COVID-19 outbreak, was this evening involved in a standoff with public health and law enforcement officials.
But, around 9:30 p.m. five hours after health authorities arrived on the scene at her Christ Church home, police officers removed the woman and other family members.
It was not immediately clear if or where the woman and her family were taken into quarantine as officials were tight-lipped as the drama ended.
Moments earlier, the woman who lives with her husband, son and mentally challenged mother, telephoned Barbados TODAY to claim that her rights were being infringed after police were called in. She said she told a Ministry of Health official that she would prefer not to be quarantined or tested.
The events unfolded around 4 p.m. as Barbados Defence Force soldiers and other health personnel responded to the incident.
The woman told Barbados TODAY she was shocked initially at the manner in which she was approached.
She acknowledged that both she and her husband attended the church in Speightstown, St Peter, which has been identified as a COVID-19 cluster.
She said: “The lady from the Health Ministry came to my home and shouted at me telling me that she was calling my phone and I was not answering. I asked her what it was about and she again shouted at me and said I would have to go to get quarantined or go and get tested. I told her with that behaviour I would do neither of the two.”
Soon afterwards, two police cars arrived at her house, she said.
After speaking briefly with the police officers she went inside and locked her door, she told Barbados TODAY. “I explained to the police that I know she is doing her job. That is the way that you are going to carry along citizens? If she had come in a better manner I would be able to function.
“When I saw the police I came in here and locked my door because I know my rights. Nobody is going to unfair me, you cannot do that. I am going to stay in this house because she brought these two police vans. I am not going out there because I am afraid of what these people are going to do to me, it’s because of these two police vans infringing on my rights.”
The church member said because of the negative publicity associated with the church’s leader, Apostle Lynroy Scantlebury, she did not believe her family would be fairly treated.
She declared: “It is harassment…and the next thing is since they have the Apostle in the press are we going to get a fair testing? That’s what I’m worried about, that’s what I want to get out there. We have been in here but are we going to get a fair testing? They are going to say ‘World Harvest, positive’. We are not going to get a fair testing.”
She also alleged that some members had been quarantined for up to four weeks, beyond the 14-day stipulated period. She did not indicate whether she knew whether the parishioners had gone on to develop COVID-19 and were now being isolated.
The woman said she was also worried as to what would happen to her mother if she was made to quarantine.
She told Barbados TODAY: “The CMO [Chief Medical Officer] said disability is one of the reasons you don’t have to quarantine.
“My mother was committed to the Psychiatric Hospital. She lost her house in a fire and she’s staying here. When I go up there [to quarantine] who is going to keep my mother is what I’m trying to say.”
Health personnel on the scene said they could not comment.
Barbados TODAY has reached out to Ronald Chapman, the head of the COVID-19 Monitoring Unit, for comment on the development.
Two weeks ago, Minister of Health Lieutenant Colonel Jeffrey Bostic expressed concern that some members of the church were not coming forward to be tested and had apparently gone into hiding from health authorities.
He subsequently praised church members one week later, saying some of them had come forward.