Craft traders in Falmouth, Trelawny, say that they are operating with a high degree of fear, even as they put on smiles and seek to woo tourists to their stalls in the hope of getting sales.
Jamaica is on high alert for the possible arrival of a most unwelcome visitor – the coronavirus (COVID-19).
The Ministry of Health and Wellness has implemented guidelines aimed at reducing the possibly of the virus being brought to the island’s shores by cruise ship passengers.
According to the guidelines, any passenger or crew who have travelled, within the last 14 days, to any country for which a landing restriction is in place, will not be allowed to disembark. The ministry said the decision to grant these privileges to other passengers or crew will be dependent on a review of ill persons on board for a determination as to whether their symptoms include fever or respiratory illnesses, either at the time of arrival in Jamaican waters, or during the cruise.
Aware that they could be in the firing line of the deadly disease, craft traders said they are taking precautions, but they are not prepared to abandon their stations – at least not yet.
Patricia Jarrett told THE STAR that she is worried.
“Dis mawning a lady come inna mi shop wid runny nose. Mi seh ‘Lawd Gaad, a wah dis yuh sen pan mi’,” she said. Joy Laech is one of the traders on the pier.
“The management has told us how to operate. We are all scared but we try to follow the guidelines,” she said.
Walford Forbes believes his occupation is now a matter of life and death.
“We not getting enough information. Although the authorities are saying we must not panic, they themselves are panicking. We have be thinking whether we putting money over life. But we need the money,” Forbes said.
Estelin Jack has known nothing other than craft vending since 1982, and has been exposed to several contagious illnesses. She said that nothing that she has seen is comparable to coronavirus.
“We neva see nutten like dis. Mi scared but mi nah lack up mi shop. Mi nuh mix, mi nuh shake hands. Mi eat from strangers but mi know wi all a guh dead one day,” Jack said.