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El Greco residents fume over quarantine takeover

Published:Monday | April 27, 2020 | 12:12 AMJanet Silvera/Senior Gleaner Writer
Medical personnel wearing protective gear walk around on the compound of El Greco in St James.
Medical personnel wearing protective gear walk around on the compound of El Greco in St James.

The Ministry of Health and Wellness (MOHW) has been accused of flaunting its authority by setting up a COVID-19 quarantine facility in a complex where some 70 families reside, but a senior regional official has pushed back at the criticism.

The residents, who live at the Garden Studios, Court Manor Townhouse, and Montego Bay Club Condominium on Queens Drive in Montego Bay, share common areas with the El Greco Resort, which is being used for quarantined coronavirus patients.

However, only the MOHW and the hotel’s management apparently knew of the arrangement as residents said that they woke up to medical personnel dressed in coveralls, unfamiliar security guards, and garbage in red see-through bags strewn in view of their doorways.

“The complex has been transformed into a COVID-19 hospital,” Trish Magnus, an owner who has resided at the complex for 20 years, told The Gleaner.

A very upset Magnus said that she and her neighbours feel disrespected by the lack of consultation.

“They arrived here like thieves in the night. A big tour bus brought several patients Monday at about midnight,” she stated.

Magnus said that last Tuesday morning when she opened her door, a security guard was posted there.

“I took his presence for nothing and went to work. When I returned at 11 a.m., I saw a lady dressed in protective gear from head to toe pushing a ventilator across the parking lot towards a room.”

She said that when she looked up, she saw a number of people hanging over the balcony, all of them wearing masks. Not only is she reeling from fear, but she is concerned about the elderly people who live in her building.

Neither Magnus nor the chairman of the neighbouring MoBay Club, Edgar Smith, has reportedly been officially notified by the MOHW.

El Greco is owned by the state-run National Investment Fund.

Volney and Louisa Fray have also expressed dissatisfaction with the ministry and are campaigning for a total lock-off of their walkway and elevators.

All the residents use the same entrance to access the property from Queens Drive. However, there is also an entrance from the Jimmy Cliff Boulevard by foot.

Errol Greene, regional director of the Western Regional Health Authority, said that the Government had appealed to various tourism stakeholders to partner with the ministry to provide rooms as the number of COVID-19 cases increases.

“We have had several responses from hotels across the island to this call, including this facility,” said Greene.

“All the necessary protocols have been put in place, as customary, and the property has been deemed safe to house the patients and would pose no threat to the surrounding community.”