After ‘nightmare’ experience, COVID survivor tells Jamaicans to take no chances

April 08, 2021

Brian Townsend is thankful that he survived his 'nightmare' encounter with the coronavirus and is anxiously awaiting his opportunity to get the COVID-19 vaccine, once it becomes available to his age group.

Townsend was hospitalised with the respiratory illness last month. Not only did he have to contend with the horrible effects of severe COVID-19 but he saw first-hand how dangerous the disease could be.

"I can tell you that it was rough. I was on the isolation ward and there were persons there who had serious breathing problems. You could hear people crying out for doctors and nurses on the COVID ward. It was a nightmare," Townsend said.

Jamaica has so far recorded more than 41,400 cases of the COVID-19 virus, and based on Ministry of Health and Wellness data, nearly four in every 10 persons who have been tested have been found with the virus. There are 631 deaths that have been confirmed as being caused by the virus and another 104 cases are under investigation. Worldwide, just under three million deaths have been recorded and economic activity has suffered a massive fall-out, forcing world leaders to base the hopes of recovery on the inoculation of their populations with vaccines.

High-risk groups

In Jamaica, the Government has started to administer the jab among high-risk groups such as health workers, the elderly and members of the security forces. The country's vaccine plans target getting shots in the arms of 65 per cent of the population by next March.

Townsend, 30, a resident of Montego Bay, St James, says he would definitely be among those lining up for the jab when it becomes available.

"If there is something to protect me from getting it again, why not take it?," Townsend said. "If based on the many medical studies that they have done, and the vaccine is as effective as they have proven it to be, why not take something that will prevent me from getting severe sickness again? The vaccine does not prevent you from getting COVID-19, it prevents you from getting adverse sickness which I had and I had to go to hospital. I don't have any problem taking it."

He recounted seeing a woman faint as he was being discharged from the hospital, causing him to reflect on the current situation with COVID-19.

"She came in with extremely low oxygen levels and sat on the bed waiting on the doctors. All of a sudden I heard her daughter bawl out and said 'Doctor! Doctor!' and when I looked around, she was stiff as board and at that moment I felt something move inside of me. I had to find a corner and just cry," Townsend said tearfully. Luckily, she recovered.

Townsend is now urging Jamaicans to observe the protocols to protect themselves from the virus.

"Take it from a person who has had the experience. COVID-19 is nothing like the common flu. Protect yourself as much as you can. If you don't need to go anywhere, don't go. Don't try play the hero," said Townsend, who is now bothered by shortness of breath, which is a direct result of him contracting COVID-19.

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