Jun 19, 2021 Letters
I share a COVID-19 incident that occurred on Monday at the GPHC. It is not the way that our health sentinels should be going about protecting citizens and building confidence. It does not reassure.
Before proceeding, I seek to assure the Hon. Minister of Health, Dr. Frank Anthony, and those tireless and dedicated members of his supporting team of medical and non-medical professionals that my intent is not to embarrass, but to put on the table what should not be, what does not make sense, to a layman like me. My first and only objective is alert as to what pertains, and in the hope that the appropriately firm guidance would be issued.
A citizen went to GPHC at my prompting to get tested. She is a senior citizen, who can be nervous around officialdom; she is not in the strongest season of her life. Her husband tested positive for the virus, and among her first concerns was whether she had also caught the virus. Well, she didn’t know then, and she still doesn’t know now. On arriving at the GPHC area reserved for such inquiries and consultations on East Street in the vicinity of New Market Street, she ran into a bureaucratic roadblock that unfolded along these lines.
Does she have any symptoms? The answer was ‘no.’ The guidance provided, more of the nature of the conclusion settled for in short order, was that she did not need to be tested. When this worried woman pressed that her husband tested positive, and it would be comforting for her to know where she stood, the position was still: ‘there is no need to be tested.’ And that she should go home, isolate, and monitor herself.
Editor, without delving into the intricacies and mysteries of the COVID-19 pandemic, and of which expertise I am at nil, the responses of the medical screener(s) the GPHC unit seems to conflict with commonsense. This is a citizen past three score and 10 years, like her spouse, with issues to manage. The age bracket and unsteadiness should have been obvious. Thus, to deny her so rigidly (am struggling to be courteous here) flies in the face of basic wisdom. She is part of a vulnerable group. And (God forbid) should she be positive, then who is going to give care to whom in a time of severe trial for these struggling citizens? In fact, officials of the Health Ministry that made a follow-up call to her home on late Monday evening to check on her infected husband were appalled to hear the substance of what I share publicly. The thinking of the caller was that the test should have been administered. I reached out to the medical people I know, but didn’t connect.
Now this is not an isolated situation, for recently a group of almost a dozen visited the same East Street screening and testing area, and were similarly blocked. That is, until a name was called, leading to tests being done. I think this norm is what should be, and without any ‘lines’ pulled; especially for those who actually go to the GPHC to ascertain where they stand, given what the circumstances are in their homes. I believe that such testing delivers the invaluable. If there is the regrettable situation of a positive result, then necessary escalations take effect. This is what protects, restrains spread, as supported by the power of preemptive knowledge. Lots of resources have been expended on vaccinations, billions have been spent to place us in a stronger position today. And though I have serious objections on how the curfew is managed and socialising protocols enforced, I think that some good things were implemented. When, however, there are situations, such as the one encountered by the folks I point to, then the broad objectives aimed for are diminished, if not partially undone.
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