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Fear of the invisible enemy

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Worry of the invisible enemy

BY KASEY WILLIAMS
Workers reporter
kaseyw@jamaicaobserver.com

Thursday, January 21, 2021

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That is the most recent in a collection by our reporters on how they managed to cowl the information on the onset of the novel coronavirus in 2020.

MANDEVILLE, Manchester — On March 10 of final yr, information broke that Jamaica had recorded its first case of COVID-19 and out of the blue there was panic in every single place. There have been no detailed tips, no clear highway map to comply with as well being specialists right here and overseas have been nonetheless researching the brand new coronavirus.

Ought to we put on a masks or not, do we have to put on gloves? There was an excessive amount of uncertainty even because the Authorities tried to reassure us all that there was no must panic… but.

Nonetheless a scholar on the Northern Caribbean College (NCU) then, I had not too long ago returned from an change programme in Atlanta and I used to be actually anxious about the way to cope with COVID-19, the invisible enemy.

Then got here information of Jamaica’s first dying from the illness, a 79-year-old Clarendon man who had been admitted to the Mandeville Regional Hospital.

The panic worsened.

The streets of Mandeville emptied and it grew to become a ghost city. I recall a dialog with a taxi driver as he stood exterior the hospital compound which was often teeming with potential passengers, however that day was deathly nonetheless. He was mulling over whether or not to search for one other line of labor.

It was then that I realised that the worst was but to come back in a yr that I had hoped could be wealthy with my many successes, together with graduating from NCU and turning into a full-time workers reporter on the Jamaica Observer.

It was speculated to be the fruits of my seven years in media overlaying numerous beats in Portland and Manchester as a author for the North Coast Occasions newspaper, Portlanders Information and a correspondent for IRIE FM.

My eagerness to complete NCU and revel in my ardour for journalism was below menace because the world modified in a matter of months.

Like many others I continued on an unsure path. With lessons now not head to head, the standard camaraderie amongst classmates sharing the identical house, respiratory the identical air, was changed with the void left by bodily distancing necessities.

My dream of travelling throughout Manchester and St Elizabeth to find and share the tales of various folks and locations was tempered with motion restricted due to the invisible enemy.

After I did enterprise out, I used to be shocked to notice that, regardless of quite a few warnings from well being officers, there was usually a disregard for COVID-19 prevention protocols. I reported on what I noticed and sought solutions. For instance, on April 7, I filmed a cluster of individuals making an attempt to enter the Mandeville tax workplace, clearly in breach of bodily distancing guidelines.

Police needed to be referred to as in to do crowd management. After the video went viral measures have been applied to facilitate bodily distancing on the location. I additionally discovered, whereas overlaying the information in deep-rural communities inside Manchester and St Elizabeth, some residents who claimed COVID-19 didn’t exist so there was no cause for them to alter their lifestyle.

However for me COVID-19 meant a brand new method to overlaying lengthy established information beats. Masking courtroom was totally different, with adjustments in how we have been allowed to entry courtrooms that have been insufficient even pre-COVID-19. Some have been poorly ventilated, which made sporting a masks for hours significantly troublesome. It was additionally a problem listening to clearly the mask-muffled voices of attorneys and judges.

Masking crime scenes, although, remained the identical in a single crucial facet: the ache that got here with them. I recall a case of home violence in Heartease, Manchester, that left 36-year-old Shanalee Bailey lifeless, allegedly murdered by the daddy of 4 of her 5 youngsters. As relations grieved, residents and passersby disregarded COVID-19 tips, their curiosity displacing any earlier notions of non-public security towards an invisible enemy.

And who may overlook the protection of political occasions?

Within the lead as much as the September 3 Common Election I used to be posted in Manchester Central and the crowds nonetheless got here regardless of warnings of the danger of contracting COVID-19 throughout mass gatherings.

With election pleasure within the air got here a transparent disregard for security tips when Jamaica Labour Social gathering supporters lined the streets of Mandeville to get a glimpse of celebration chief Andrew Holness and newcomer Rhoda Crawford throughout a motorcade.

When the Observer broke the information with video and picture proof of the road of automobiles and the crushing crowd it drew, Holness shortly banned all political motorcades.

On election day I hit the highway early, working alone I began my protection in Manchester Central then onto Manchester Southern. My subsequent stops have been in Manchester North Western and North Jap.

The image was the identical in every single place: folks went out early to vote, some not adhering to the COVID-19 prevention tips, their concern of the invisible enemy apparently not as nice as mine. That concern remains to be with me, however I cannot permit it to paralyse me into inaction.

I’ve to dwell with my concern with the intention to survive this pandemic. It’s what pushes me to maintain protected.

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