COVID-19 death dispute

FAMILY members of the 79-year-old man that the Government yesterday said died from complications related to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) are threatening legal action, arguing instead that their loved one died from pneumonia.

In an exclusive interview with the Jamaica Observer last evening, one of the sons of the deceased blasted Ministry of Health (MOH) officials whom, he said, were not being truthful to the country.

“A lot of people are talking about him dying from the coronavirus. He did not die from it. He had developed pneumonia from New York, United States, and when he got here it worsened. If he died from the virus, why have they not quarantined us? I just left the hospital and heading back to the house right now. The doctor did not tell me that he died from that,” the son, who asked not to be identified, told the Observer.

“They did one [test] and it came back negative. They were waiting on another [test] result when he passed. They called me to bring his medication there and I was on my way when he just passed away. They called me to bring change of clothes for him, things to bathe him, and water for him to drink,” said the man, who returned to the island with his father last Thursday.

Chief medical officer (CMO) in the Ministry of Health and Wellness Dr Jacquiline Bisasor McKenzie told journalists at a press conference at Jamaica House in St Andrew last evening that the man, who was staying in Corn Piece, Clarendon, tested positive for the virus yesterday and died shortly after.

The CMO said the man had underlying health conditions — diabetes and hypertension.

She explained that he arrived at Lionel Town Hospital in the parish with symptoms on Monday and was later isolated at Mandeville hospital.

“I’m going to make some phone calls to my lawyer and find out what is the way forward, because they are saying that he died from the coronavirus and that is not the case. We are going to sue,” the man said.

He told the Observer that his father had indicated to him while in New York that he was feeling weak, that he didn’t feel he had much time left, and that he did not wish to die in the United States.

He said his father also indicated to him that he wished to return to Jamaica as soon as possible to make adjustments to his will.

The man said he immediately booked four tickets for himself, his father, mother, and son to travel to the island.

The four arrived in the island on Thursday last and all was well, the son said, until his father got into a dispute on Sunday with family members which is believed to have exacerbated his health situation.

“…My father just got sick from there. So Monday morning we took him to the hospital. I spoke to the doctor and he told me [he developed] pneumonia. He had a cough from New York so when he came to Jamaica it developed more,” the man stated.

“Now family can’t afford to get exposed (identified) because they spreading the fake news that he died from corona. They (MOH officials) gave out fake news. Everybody is still at the house. Nobody has said anything to us about quarantine. I saw the health inspector in Mandeville and she did not say anything to me about being in isolation or quarantine. She just took my name and number and said she would give me a call. Nobody said anything to me,” he said.

When the Observer arrived in the community in Hayes, Clarendon, last evening the few residents who were observed going about their business refused to comment on the report.