Forty-five children from the St Mary’s Children’s Home in Tacarigua are yet to be swabbed and tested for COVID-19, while some buildings on the compound remain unsanitised, the home’s manager Fitzroy Henry said yesterday.
In an interview with Guardian Media, Henry said the kitchen area, where an employee who tested positive for the virus worked, was thoroughly sanitised on Thursday. However, he said the other buildings remained unsanitised because of delays with the company hired to do the job.
“We will try our best to get it sanitised over the weekend. We called a company and they told us they were coming two days now but they can’t reach here yet. The cleaning company is overwhelmed,” Henry explained.
Henry added, “The kitchen, which is the main department where the COVID-positive staff member worked, was sanitised at a hefty cost. For the other buildings, we are trying to get a more reasonable company.
“We cannot pay five and eight thousand to sanitise every building in here, we don’t have that kind of money to spend. The people in the building have not been tested, so sanitising a building with people you are monitoring doesn’t make no sense but people are just not understanding that.”
He said the home had a staff of 85 people, which include government workers, contract workers and relief staff.
Henry said they starting making preparations in March in case someone contracted COVID-19.
“We hired a company since March and had them on standby. Just in case our people had become ill, these people would work alongside our staff and have taken all precautions,” Henry said.
He noted that the staff member and one other member of her family had tested positive and were now in home isolation having experienced minimal symptoms.
Henry said they were monitoring the home’s children to see if they developed any symptoms but so far nobody has any symptoms.
“Everyone is healthy. We will try our best to get it sanitised over the weekend. We have all the money to pay sanitisation but the sanitisation companies cannot respond as fast as we would like,” he promised.
He added, “In a community environment like this, in as much as you tell all the little children to wear a mask and sanitise, they are all living in the same rooms. They all want to come up and hug up and touch and be friendly. We are doing as best as we could but it’s a very difficult situation to manage without getting stressed out.”
The home was founded in 1857 and has been supervised by the Anglican Diocese. It has housed thousands of children since its inception.
Asked when the COVID positive worker had last reported for duty, he said about a week ago. He said the staffer became exposed, was quarantined for two weeks, tested negative and returned to work but her second test proved positive. Henry said he was committed to upholding all COVID-19 protocols, adding at least 10 of 85 staff members have been sent for quarantine as they were primary contacts of the staffer who tested positive.
Henry said some of the staff members were now worried about their jobs but they had no reason to be, noting that precautions had to be taken because staffers who were primary contacts had not yet been tested.
“Tests are not being done, I guess because of the limited amount of tests that they have. I don’t know what is happening in the Public Service. I am waiting for a doctor or a nurse to come into my compound. I haven’t seen anybody come,” Henry said.
“We are just waiting to see. They are not coming to do any tests, they are just letting you monitor the people who were exposed and making sure the symptoms are not showing up.”
He added, “The hospitals are giving confusing information and people are afraid that they won’t get back their job. Nobody’s job is at risk. Their payment is not affected. But people are getting confusing information and they running about saying things that are not true at all.”