With almost all of Cayman’s population complying with government-mandated measures to suppress the transmission of COVID-19, social distancing, hand sanitising and keeping to hard and soft curfews have become part of most people’s daily routine.
But what happens when you practise all the above, only to have the coronavirus show up at your door? That was the frightening ordeal roughly 40 George Town residents of an apartment complex experienced after one of their neighbours tested positive for the coronavirus.
Though the test results for those residents eventually all came back negative, with only the initial person, who failed to self-isolate, found positive, the wait was unnerving.
“When I first heard about the coronavirus, I never dreamt that it would come so close to me,” said Althea Swaby-Peters, who lives a few doors down from the person who tested positive.
She is not alone – several other neighbours were also left stunned.
“To see this turn up at our complex, it was really shocking,” said another resident of the apartments, who gave his name only as Simon.
He was speaking to the Cayman Compass from behind a half–open door, to which was taped a sign warning that no visitors were allowed.
“It was shocking to know that it was two doors away from you; and you are following the protocol of not being outside, you’re not touching anything, you’re not getting yourself involved with anyone, and to know that it is right there,” Simon said.
After the resident was diagnosed with COVID-19, the Public Health Department arranged for all the remaining occupants of the apartment block to be tested.
“The testing wasn’t nothing nice or sweet, it was agonising,” said Swaby-Peters. “They have a straw thing that looks like what you would put in your ears, but it is much longer … They [tell] you ‘relax your nose’. But it is like a fire going inside your nose and a fire coming back out, so it’s nothing to relax.”
Swaby-Peters said the staff who conducted the test were professional, which helped to ease the pain slightly.
“I’ve never done a swab before,” said Simon. “But positively knowing that I am good, healthy and everything, I just [sat] and did it in the name of Jesus.”
While the residents awaited their results, many found solace by praying.
“I was a bit anxious waiting on the results, but I’m a lady who is always prayed up, so I didn’t have that fear of having corona, even thought it was [close] to me,” said Swaby-Peters.
Delson Lenin Pena, who lives with his wife in the complex, said, “We prayed [for] the people, we prayed [for] the building – we prayed. If that problem happens in my house, it’s [what] God wants.”
Lenin Pena added that he believes “God gives the hardest battles, to the strongest warriors” and it was his faith that brought him through the ordeal.
Swaby-Peters noted the ordeal pointed to the seriousness of the virus. “This experience taught me that COVID-19 is real. It might not be at our doorsteps, but it is real when it hits home.”
Simon and his wife sanitised the floor, railings and door outside their home. “I’ve gotten even more serious and critical with this thing now,” he said.
“That why you see this sign on my door [banning visitors]; I don’t even want anyone to come and knock on my door, because you don’t know where they are coming from,” he said.
After the Public Health Department gave residents the all-clear, Simon and his neighbours are now calling on the rest of Cayman to follow the advice and guidance of the government.
“The government is doing a really, really good job, I must say,” Simon said. “Coronavirus is going to die, and Cayman will be OK, but we all just need to heed the protocols.”
Swaby-Peters summed up her fellow residents’ warning to the rest of Cayman. “My advice to the people of Cayman is, ‘Tan a yuh yaad’.”