A soldier closes the gate at the Seventh-Day Adventist Church camp in Balandra, Toco on Wednesday.  PHOTO BY AYANNA KINSALE - Ayanna Kinsale
A soldier closes the gate at the Seventh-Day Adventist Church camp in Balandra, Toco on Wednesday. PHOTO BY AYANNA KINSALE - Ayanna Kinsale

SOME 68 people who were brought home on Tuesday night after being stranded on a cruise ship in Guadeloupe, appeared to be in good spirits on Wednesday at the Seventh-Day Adventist Church camp in Balandra, Toco where they will be quarantined for 14 days. Some were seen in the yard enjoying the sunshine and the sea breeze while being attended to by medical personnel who are monitoring them for any signs of the coronavirus.

But their presence there is causing some discomfort for villagers who told Newsday they are upset about not being told that the facility would be used to quarantine people returning to TT after possible exposure to covid19.

Even though the Ministry of Health said none of 68 people tested positive, the villagers are worried that symptoms may surface in the coming days. When the group arrived at the airport, they were immediately screened by public health after coming off a flight, with no other passengers, and taken to the quarantine facility accompanied by the police and defence force. TT, up to late Wednesday, had seven confirmed covid19 cases, all of which are said to have been imported.

Newsday visited the camp on Wednesday and met soldiers guarding the gate.

A relative of one person in the camp told Newsday she applauded the government for this move. She said the action will reduce the risk of spreading the virus to close family and friends.

But Balandra resident Annmarie Davis told Newsday she is disappointed that government didn’t alert them of its decision to take the group into the area.

“People get so scared when we see all the commotion. We just getting messages by the way. People here are scared. I don’t think they should have done this. Tell us something.”

Camille Small said her only concern is what is the government's next step if people in the group test positive for the virus.

“How could they put all of them together? If one of then is sick and they cant tell now, then by the end of the 14 days many of them will get sick.

“Toco is an area people come from town to relax. Just the thought of them being here would discourage visitors to the area. They should put them in a place that is really isolated. where there aren't children, visitors, business and beach goers. We will have to keep our kids inside.”

Small is calling on the authorities to meet with them and let them know if Toco will be used to quarantine other returning nationals in the future.

Another resident, who wished to remain anonymous, said, “We come like a dumb dog in Jerusalem – we don’t know nothing. My daughter has been isolating herself for three days and she can’t focus. So imagine keeping these people for 14 days.

“How could you bring them up in this village and call it isolated? I don’t like that statement at all. We don’t matter? There are village councils, community leaders and councillors in this area that they could have communicated with. This was just shoved down our throats just like that.”

She said she hopes the plans of the government to quarantine the group goes as planned without putting Toco villagers at risk. “We could only hope for them to cool themselves and stay put.”



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