‘Help each other’

HEALTH Minister Dr Christopher Tufton has chided individuals for sidelining and even abusing people suspected of having contracted COVID-19, while pointing out that individuals who have recovered should be allowed to seamlessly reintegrate into society.

Tufton made the observation following an interview on Wednesday afternoon with Jamaica’s first patient to have recovered from the infectious disease. The individual, speaking during a digital press briefing hosted by the ministry, said his “experience was a good experience”.

“While I was there, I wasn’t feeling pain,” the man said, while noting that he heard others “who were having serious challenges”.

Asked how he has been treated in his community since being discharged, he said: “I don’t have friends more than the ordinary, it’s just home. Mi nuh really exposed to people like that.”

Following the exchange, the health minister said: “I wanted Jamaica to hear your voice because we wanted to make the point that there are a lot of us who should understand and appreciate that this is a virus that can cause you to get ill, with treatment you can recover, and with that recovery you can become as normal as any other person in our society and you should be allowed to take your rightful place in your community with your family and friends.”

Tufton then reiterated: “We really want to discourage the discrimination because we have had cases of it, even persons suspected to have COVID-19, they have had to suffer abuses, threats, isolation — meaning, persons ignoring them — and there are going to be a lot of Jamaicans who have COVID-19. Next year this time, it may be just like H1N1 or the flu, and what we want society to do is to help each other, not to treat anyone like an outcast.”

— Alicia Dunkley-Willis

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