A section of the field hospital in May Pen, Clarendon.
Photo: Donald De La Haye

“It is a terrible journey. It is like an armed man with axe, machete and other tools destroying the body,” states St. Thomas resident, Lincoln Morgan, of his experience with the coronavirus (COVID-19) disease.

Mr. Morgan, who is a builder, shares with JIS News that when he was about to retire to bed recently, he felt his feet very cold. The next morning, it was fever. From there, he became very weak, then he went for a COVID test, which came back positive.

He recounts that a few days after the COVID-19 confirmation, he went to use the bathroom and had to sit on the floor, unable to stand on his feet, while his wife shouted from a distance, “Fight Morgan, fight; yuh cyaan dead suh!” When a little strength returned, he had to crawl on his hands and knees to get to the bedroom due to weakness of his body.

“COVID a nuh something for anybody to joke wid because you don’t know when it is coming. Imagine going to the bathroom fi urinate, and it a drop pon the ground and wet yuh trousers? A deh suh it bring mi. it is a terrible thing. Imagine that within 10 minutes yuh wet like somebody threw a drum of water on you,” Mr. Morgan says, while explaining the many horrific experiences that he encountered with the dreaded virus.

“Yuh body dead; yuh spirit dead; everything just going down. I reached the stage where I said I was not coming back. It is a rough ride, everybody fi tek precautions, follow the protocols,” he asserts.

Now in his fourth week of illness, he says he had lost his appetite, which he is gradually regaining, but he is unable to hold anything in his hands and warns that persons need to adhere to the rules laid down by the Ministry of Health and Wellness. Take the vaccines, he admonishes, because it saved his wife from becoming ill, as she had also contracted the virus. As soon as the doctors say he can be vaccinated, he will be next in line for the injection, Mr. Morgan says.

While calling for persons to trust the authorities, “Men are saying if you take the vaccine yuh won’t have any use for woman again, but mi reached that stage, an’ mi never tek the vaccine,” he shares, adding that it was COVID that caused his dilemma, and “if wi do whey wi fi duh, we will make it. This is no Mark of the Beast,” he says of the vaccines.

He says during his isolation from family and friends, he conditioned his mind not to feel abandoned, as he would not want anyone to suffer as he did. Mr. Morgan also praised the doctors and nurses at the Princess Margaret Hospital for their dedication to patient care, noting that he saw them moving up and down, among the sick and dying, without much rest.

Chartered Accountant, and resident of the Corporate Area, Angela Curtis, shares that her encounter with the deadly virus did not lead to hospitalisation, but she was tortured with irregular breathing, racing of the heart, swollen tonsil, abdominal pains, and other effects.

“It was horrible,” she recalls, adding that during the recovery stage, she avoided everything cold, and only consumed warm items of drinks and food, although she could not eat much. She also ensured she got a lot of sunlight.

“It wasn’t pleasant, not for one bit. It was like having pins in your hands and feet. It was really difficult,” she says. Miss Curtis says once persons display COVID-19-related symptoms, they should get tested and isolate themselves until the result is known.

If they contract the virus, “Don’t panic – when you panic, you find that your breathing gets worse. In keeping calm, it means that you do not use up too much of the oxygen that you naturally need. Trust in God, your state of mind does a lot for you in the healing process. Once you start worrying, you give up and feel everything; stress is not good for your healing,” she says.

St. Catherine resident, Noel Ingram, says it was a routine self-check of his blood pressure, and realising that it was getting very low, he had a consultation with a medical person, who advised him to rush to a doctor. That caused him to know that he had contracted the virus.

He shares that after checking in at a private hospital, the doctor was running tests, and a nurse intervened and told him to take a COVID-19 test. “I immediately said ‘go ahead’,”

“I lift my hat to nurses; they are well-trained professionals,” he states. After the positive result was disclosed, he was transferred to the Kingston Public Hospital (KPH) where he spent one week. While his illness was not severe, within the six days at the hospital he lost 14 pounds but feels that exceptional care was the reason for his speedy recovery.

“The Kingston Public Hospital is one of the finest institutions in this country. The staff are true professionals. They are hard-working people and are loving people,” he reasons.

Mr. Ingram, who will be taking his second shot of the vaccine on October 10, wants Jamaicans to not wait once they are having health challenges, but to “get in touch with a medical person”.

“Stop listening to people who have no formal training in this COVID thing. The experts are learning every day. It hurts me when I listen to people on the radio, be it pastors and others, who should know better, giving advise about COVID. It is a wicked act for some selfish reasons,” he argues.

Another recovered person from the virus, Kayvine Powell, says she believes she was helped by herbs that are grown in her Manchester community, and escaped hospitalisation, though she endured most of the health ravages from COVID.

Mrs. Powell who is a strong believer in wellness and eating right, says around the same time that she was infected, her eldest son also caught the virus. She had to employ all the isolation steps available to ensure that no other member in the family got the disease, which she was successful in doing.

She tells JIS News that her conscious healthy lifestyle aided in her recovery and wants persons to “make sure that your diet is always right. You can live a normal life, but it is taking care of your body, before COVID”.

“The key to every ailment is how you take care of yourself, before you get sick – how you eat, your physical, mental and spiritual self… this thing is serious, and it is real. So, don’t be careless, don’t expose yourself unnecessarily. if you have to go out, wear your masks and sanitise,” Mrs. Powell states.

President of the Lupus Foundation of Jamaica (LFJ), Dr. Desirée Tulloch-Reid, says persons with lupus are very vulnerable to being severely affected by COVID, and they need to be vaccinated. The evidence shows that the “vaccines are safe and protective of lupus patients”.

“We want the message to go out wider, so that persons can make the right decision. What we don’t want is for persons to delay, because they are unsure, and they become susceptible to developing or contracting COVID-19 infections, especially in their condition,” Dr. Tulloch-Reid says.

Former Director of the Sickle Cell Unit at the University of the West Indies, Professor Jennifer Knight-Madden, says persons with the sickle cell disorder, also have limited resistance to the virus, and they must observe with care all the protocols that have been put in place to control transmission of the COVID-19 virus.

“The overall picture seems to be that people who have sickle cell disease, are at risk of having more severe complications of COVID-19 than other persons who do not have the disease, so, we recommend that our patients be very careful, and that they take the vaccines,” the Professor tells JIS News.

For Director of Family Services in the health Ministry, Dr. Melody Ennis, once persons experience any flu-like symptoms, they should go into isolation from friends and family members, and only return to work and other normal activities when it is confirmed that they do not have the virus.

She says it continues to be worrying for the medical community that persons are still holding on to myths about the vaccines, and that more than six billion people across the globe and nearly 800,000 persons in Jamaica have been inoculated with the medicine, and “I am sure that almost everyone now knows someone that has been vaccinated, and doing well, and they have not changed”.

Director of Family Health Services in the Ministry of Health and Wellness, Dr. Melody Ennis.

“Since the pandemic started, we have seen persons who have been vaccinated, persons who were in the clinical trials, and they have gone on to have children. We have people in Jamaica who were inoculated in March, and when they return for their second shot, they were pregnant – there is no correlation between the vaccines that could cause infertility,” Dr. Ennis states.

The World Health Organization (WHO), says that vaccines save millions of lives each year, and it works by “training and preparing the body’s natural defences – the immune system – to recognise and fight off the viruses they target. After vaccination, if the body is later exposed to those disease-causing germs, the body is immediately ready to destroy them, preventing illness,” the WHO states.

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