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Rampersad Kassie

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For Couva residents who grasp how COVID-19 is spread, the use of the T&T Football Association’s (TTFA) Home of Football as a quarantine step-down facility is not an issue. But some do not trust the information in the public domain and believe the Government should seek an area that is far more remote.

When Guardian Media visited Balmain yesterday, residents said although the facility was several hundred metres away from homes, they use the area for cardiovascular exercises. Central Park residents said they were barred from exercising at the neighbouring Ato Boldon Stadium last year, but they use the roads there because there is less traffic.

While the Government’s Stay-at-Home measures advises against outdoor exercise, the news team was told that people continue to exercise there near the sporting hub.

It was for this reason and others that produce vendor Rampersad Bruce Kassie believes recovering patients should not be there. Kassie believes no one knows how rapidly the virus can spread and despite Government protocols, he said there are careless people around.

“I feel very awkward. I am sure that other villagers might feel unsafe, seeing that it is right here. They have the children’s hospital right there, where they have the people, but I think that they should have found a place or village or whatever it is; a facility that is safer because the people fear for their lives.

“It is a spreading thing. It is very contagious. I am sure that everybody around will feel unsafe,” Kassie said.

He said he understands how the virus spreads but suspects that it can be airborne as well, given how cases rose in England, the USA and Italy. He said it was impossible to predict that if patients are quarantined in the step-down facility they would not have public interactions.

“In my opinion, the health officials knew things but they’re making a lot of false reports to make the public feel safe. There are still officials on a higher level who are not telling you the truth. I don’t think people are safe in this country.”

Produce vendor Ricky Ramroop also believes the residents at Central Park will be at risk as it was too close for comfort. Ramroop said it makes villagers uncomfortable, especially as it is a scary time.

But in Central Park, one health worker who uses the area for exercise said she does not foresee any problems with the sporting facility being used. She said the patients it will house are those who tested negative for the virus.

“I don’t have a problem because the health officials would not be moving the patients there if they were positive. Those patients would be recovering. I don’t think people fully understand this virus, including myself, as to whether you can only contract it through your nose, eyes and mouth.”

Another resident, Antonia Fiddler, said because the area will be closed to the public she does not see any risks.

“I think that once the necessary precautions are taken we should not have any problems,” Fiddler said.

“They (Government) must find somewhere to put the patients. If they are there and everyone shows negative results, there is no issue. If those people were our family, wouldn’t we want to know that there was somewhere they can stay and be safe?”

Although she was surprised at the proposal, Balmain resident Vinita Kussie also did not see an issue.

“Well, they might as well use it for something. I don’t feel anyhow really. We are all humans at the end of the day. I’m cool with that as long as they stay inside and do what they have to do and listen to whomever,” Kussie said.