Jamaica reaches 2,000 COVID-19 deaths

October 11, 2021
A hearse makes its way to Meadowrest Memorial Gardens in St Catherine.
A hearse makes its way to Meadowrest Memorial Gardens in St Catherine.

While September 3 may be a fazed reality for John*, it will be etched in his mind forever. Prior to that date, he started experiencing COVID-19 symptoms but thought it was just a bad flu. But on his way to work, his stomach felt heavy and he was weak. A nudge to take a PCR test confirmed his worst fear -- he had contracted the highly contagious virus, which has claimed the lives of 2,000 persons in Jamaica since last March.

The days that followed the confirmation, his oxygen levels went low and he needed to be hospitalised. John opted to be treated at home by a private doctor, who urged him to do a CT scan. The results of the scan showed that there was a host of virus concentrated on his lungs, making it difficult for him to breathe.

"I was gasping and talking in confusion. It felt like someone was taking all the air from my body, using a vacuum. I really felt like I was going to die," the 60-year-old shared.

John's encounter with the virus is a fall from grace, eluding him from being counted in the 2,000 persons who died from contracting COVID-19.

A staggering 1,425 or 71.25 per cent of the persons died are 60 years and older. Jean Lowrie-Chin, president of the Caribbean Community of Retired Persons (CCRP), said that the impact of COVID-19 is distressing, not only for the elderly but for the entire Jamaican population.

"You know our elderly, they have so many underlying conditions and, therefore, that makes them more vulnerable to COVID-19. I would like to appeal to the young people who live in households with elderly, that they are very careful, when they are not vaccinated to [care] for the elderly. We have to ensure that as many Jamaicans as possible are vaccinated," Lowrie-Chin told THE STAR.

Commenting on the grim 2,000 death toll from COVID-19, Kevin Morrison, a nurse who has been on the frontline fighting the virus, urged citizens to remain strong.

"We couldn't help them but 2,000 people is a whole lot. I think that one person is even too much," Morrison said.

"I said it at work the other day that soon, a lot of persons coming in will start to look very familiar, which means that family members, close friends, it will be hard to predict," he said.

Morrison said it is of paramount importance that more members of the society get vaccinated, to reduce the possibility of death. He said from his experience working on the frontline at St Ann's Bay Hospital, he has never seen someone admitted to the hospital, who is vaccinated, die from COVID-19.

"It's not that we want to force people to take the vaccine but, in my eyes, I think that is the best way moving forward. People are very skeptic, that they still don't trust the vaccine, but what are we going to do? Is it just that we are going to watch these people die, when we know we had a fighting chance to give ourselves a slightly better opportunity of surviving the virus in the event that we got it? If it's the vaccine that is going to do it, then, why not?" Morrison quizzed.

As of yesterday, some 836,300 persons have been vaccinated in Jamaica, with 319,000 fully vaccinated. The Government has set a target of getting one million shots in arms by the end of November.

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