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The last batch of Caymanian students travelling from overseas touched down Sunday night and are settling in at isolation facilities that will be their home for the next 14 days.
The adjustment to the new norm will take time. Even for students like Jevaughnie Ebanks, who arrived back on island Friday, isolation is still taking some getting used to.
“It’s weird to be home, but not home at the same time,” Ebanks told the Cayman Compass in an interview over WhatsApp on Monday.
Brunel University student Nayo Swan agreed, saying she’s trying to make the best of the situation.
“It’s day three for me and, so far, isolation is fine. Three meals a day and a hotel room for myself means I have a lot of ‘me’ time. Not the most ideal situation to be in a hotel for, but I’m making the most of it and enjoying myself,” Swan said.
On Monday Premier Alden McLaughlin commended the 137 students whom, he said, “volunteered” for self-isolation at the government provided facility.
Ebanks, who is a regular in the annual production of comedy show ‘Rundown’ and a radio personality, is among the students in isolation in a hotel as part of government’s COVID-19 response.
As of Monday, Cayman has recorded five confirmed cases of coronavirus.
Ebanks said when he and fellow students left London on Friday, he felt mentally prepared to go into isolation, but “isolation in the UK is different than isolation here. In here, I’m not allowed to leave my room – not even to go downstairs to the lobby area … . Whilst isolation in the UK was simply, I have to just live alone and not take public transport, not going to public spaces, but I’m still, for example, allowed to go outside.”
As a social person, who is a “bit claustrophobic”, being restricted to his hotel room “sometimes feel very overwhelming,” Ebanks said.
However, he said, there has been a lot of camaraderie among the students at the facility and the support from friends and family has helped.
“The first day that I got here is when I realised, ‘Okay, I have to stay in this room’ and that was immediately a problem because all I could think of is ‘I’m not going to manage it’, but with friends and family, they have made it easier.
“It’s a strange experience. It’s frustrating because I literally just move from bedroom to couch to bathroom, and that’s it. So, it can feel a bit mundane at times, but I keep reminding myself that it’s for the betterment of the country,” he said.
When they arrived, Ebanks and his fellow students were met by medical staff who took their temperatures, before boarding buses and being transported to the hotel.
Oklahoma student Shekirah Ebanks said the transition was smooth.
“We arrived at the hotel and were greeted. It was a pleasant thing. We weren’t treated like how some people were making fun of it. ‘Oh, we’re going to be treated like terrorists or something like that.’ It was nothing like that. They gave us like a little care package and everything, and we were escorted to our rooms, so it was more of a pleasant situation than I thought it was,” Shekirah Ebanks said.
Overall, the students were pleased with the government’s response and actions taken.
“They (government) are extremely prepared and they are taking every precaution imaginable. For example, [we are not even] allowed to directly take things from persons who come to deliver [food] for us. They have to place it on a table outside of our door, knock on our door … leave, and [we] collect what is given. So, it’s different. It’s a weird, a weird way of socialising – that’s the best I could put it, but they’ve been very prepared,” he said.
Sebrina Rankine agreed, saying, “[I have been] pretty much doing the same thing, class assignments and preparation for final exams, if and when they happen.
“I am a final-year law student with two weeks of classes remaining, which have now transitioned online. I am currently surrounded by law textbooks and statutes. So, honestly, not much of a change,” she said.
The students all said they are anxious to complete their “sentence” and spend time with their families and on the beach.
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