THIRTY-SIX days after being released from hospital, Jamaica’s first known COVID-19 recovery case, Patient 5, is still counting his blessings that he successfully fought off the disease and wasn’t seriously ill.
However, now he’s fighting to make ends meet, having exhausted his savings.
“Everything right now crash…Nutten nah gwaan. Everyting just gone back a square one,” he told the Jamaica Observer yesterday. “Mi jus a try seek work but now is not the time, so mi haffi just wait and gwaan try manage how mi can manage. Right now, fi tell you di honest truth, me savings kinda finish but mi still a try manage. Tings nuh really stable as before, but everything down right now so me cyaan really do nutten more. It’s very difficult.”
The cruise ship worker juggles making ends meet with ensuring that he does not contract the infectious disease again.
“This virus is a killer, everyone should be [afraid]. I am also a human being, scared same way as everybody. So [I am] just taking precautions and trying to keep safe,” he said.
Like Patient 5, bus driver Kimar Service, who was also diagnosed with COVID-19, had no major symptoms of the disease. After 17 days in Cornwall Regional Hospital recovering from the disease, he no longer needed medical monitoring and returned home on Sunday to an empty house. His immediate family members are still in quarantine, waiting for their second negative test results so they can join him at home. It was a lonely homecoming on Sunday, but Service said he is happy to be out of hospital, where he spent his days watching Netflix or talking with friends on social media.
Shortly after noon yesterday, he had seen only one neighbour since his return — an old friend who told him he looked like he was “coming from foreign” as his skin was noticeably lighter from constantly being indoors. Before COVID-19 upended his world, Service got regular doses of sunlight as he ferried passengers between Maroon Town and Montego Bay in St James. It was one of those passengers who infected him.
Service often uses the word “normal” when describing his encounter with the pandemic that has infected more than three million and claimed the lives of more than 250,000 around the world. He is among the more than 1.1 million who have so far recovered globally, and he describes his symptom-free hospital stay as uneventful.
But, with gentle prodding, he speaks of the moments that will likely stay with him for some time, like the death of the four-year-old who is among Jamaica’s nine COVID-19 fatalities announced up to Monday afternoon. At one point, they shared the same room before Service was moved to his own.
“The baby was struggling to breathe. It was terrible, the coughs were terrible,” he said.
He was saddened when he heard the child did not make it.
“[I was okay, but] there were people fighting for their life, including the baby that died,” he said. Service has a one-year-old of his own.
Yesterday he was unsure of what his next step would be. He is his family’s only source of income.
“Mi a go jus’ lay low for a while. Maybe I’ll have to go back on the road, I have no other choice. I’m not sure yet. Just have to wait and see,” he said.
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