Thu | Jul 9, 2020

Cabbies relax stance on Mocho virus stigma

Published:Saturday | March 14, 2020 | 12:56 AMOlivia Brown/Gleaner Writer

Stigma around residents of the rural community of Mocho, Clarendon, appeared to be receding yesterday as some taxi operators relaxed their stance on not accepting the patronage of commuters as panic spread Thursday of COVID-19 transmission to a shopkeeper.

The Ministry of Health & Wellness reported shortly after midnight on Thursday that the 58-year-old father of Patient 0 – the first person in Jamaica confirmed as having contracted the novel coronavirus – was infected.

Councillor of the Mocho division, Romaine Morris, revealed at the monthly meeting of the Clarendon Municipal Corporation that there was anxiety because of the 58-year-old’s interactions in Goshen, including his hosting of a community bingo.

“I’m quite sure that the Ministry of Health will be intervening and will play a keen role in this. So what I’m asking now is for residents to be calm and listen to all the guidelines that Ministry has released,” he said.

At least eight persons have tested positive for the virus, also known as SARS-CoV-2.

On Thursday, residents protested that taxi operators had ceased service to the district of Goshen, leaving travellers in distress.

BUSINESS AS USUAL

But that sentiment wore thin on Friday. Though some operators who traverse the Mocho to May Pen route expressed reservations, others said it was business as usual.

“If you hear say virus up deh, you nuh haffi protect yourself?” questioned one cabbie, who told The Gleaner that he intended to halt his operations until he felt comfortable being out in the public again.

Another taxi operator said he still extended services to the area, noting that he has been exercising hygienic practices. “Me still carry them. Me use Lysol spray out the car after each trip,” he said.

One optimistic taxi man said the viral contagion was a phase.

“You a fe carry them, ‘cause when this pass, them nah go wah drive with you,” he said, while acknowledging that he had heightened fears over the novel coronavirus.

The drivers said they had been sterilising their vehicles and utilising other sanitation resources such as wipes and hand sanitiser to reduce their chances of contracting COVID-19.

More than 140,000 people have been infected with SARS-CoV-2, which has killed 5,000-plus people.