St Helena Covid-19 Diary – Saints In Isolation Again

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St Helena Covid-19 Diary – Saints In Isolation Again

St Helena is possibly still Covid-19 free at the time of writing this on 28 March, 2020, but it seems unlikely to remain that way much longer. Last night it was announced that one of the 37 passengers who arrived on the last flight from Johannesburg on 21 March, is now under strict self-isolation after reporting a cough and headache. St Helena doesn’t have Coronavirus (Covid-19) test kits so we can’t know for sure how serious it is.

 

Social-Distancing and Being Cut-Off

Local people have tracked the pandemic in recent months on television, radio and the internet, and began implementing their own social-distancing steps even before official government advice was rolled out.

South Africa’s three-week lockdown began yesterday, 27 March. SA Airlink, the island’s air service provider, based in Johannesburg, have ceased flights for the entire period, which means the island is partially cut-off from the outside world until the second half of April, although this could well be extended.

We say ‘partially’ because our cargo vessel, the MV Helena, currently on her way up from Cape Town, is still bringing supplies (for now). And yachts are also still allowed to call, although the government has changed their mind twice about this within the last four days, so things could well be different by the time you read this. At this time there are 16 yachts on the moorings.

Morning of 28 March 2020 has 16 yachts on the moorings at St Helena

 

We’ve Been Here Before

Isolation though is something unlikely to faze Saints in the way it does others. Air travel as a means of access to the outside world is not yet three years’ old and for all of us adults at least, the experiences of living through months of sudden isolation at times when our ship had broken down, are still fresh.

That said, the new coronavirus aspects of the situation we find ourselves in today is obviously unprecedented. Factors adding anxiety to the situation include:

  • As mentioned earlier, we don’t have Covid-19 test kits yet.
  • The hospital only has four ventilators, the vital equipment needed to support those suffering severe Covid-19 effects.
  • There’s a shortage of PPE (personal protective equipment) for health and care workers, and shops are sold out of hand-sanitiser.
  • 876 (21.7%) of our 4,037 St Helenian population are 65 and over (2016 census figures), and therefore particularly vulnerable to the virus.

SA Airlink flight from Johannesburg arriving on 21 March, 2020 – last flight before the South African lockdown

St Helena Covid-19 Diary, Opening The First Page

On top of this everyone is trying to get to grips with the new jargon and what it all means: social-distancing, self-isolating and shielding. Wash your hands, keep your distance, cough into your elbow!

It’s clear life on St Helena is going to be very different to anything any of us have experienced before.

And so we’ve decided to begin this St Helena Covid-19 Diary, to document how the people of the island prepare, respond and get through this crazy new reality.

Our first diary entries from Noleen and Virginia, were recorded on 27 March, 2020, the day South Africa began its lockdown, effectively isolating St Helena in the process.

What lies ahead? What will St Helena look like when we come out the other side?

All of us can only pray and hope and do everything we can to help each other stay healthy and safe as we reluctantly head into the unknown.

This is our Covid-19 Diary from St Helena.

 


 

Kerry Yon

Coltsheds, Longwood

St Helena Covid-19 Diary, 21 April 2020

Kerry Yon

 

Where do you work, what do you do and how has the situation affected your job?

Indeed. Yes – being the Manager of Shipping and Travel (Solomons) Covid19 has been the forefront of everything we do and has been the case since January. We have had to keep abreast of which countries were locking down, which airlines were suspending their services and change in regulations. All of which were changing on a daily basis and to be able keep up with it all was somewhat challenging and very draining. All businesses in the travel industry will take a big hit and our business will be no exception. Every single aspect of life and business will suffer because of this virus.

What has been the biggest disruption or impact to your daily routine or lifestyle?

I don’t find there has been any major disruptions to my current lifestyle. I very rarely attend big public functions or social gatherings so I don’t find anything disruptive at this time, however it has taught me to be more resourceful especially in the kitchen.

What precautions are you taking to stay safe?

Enhanced hygiene practices, avoid going to restaurants and public places, avoid visiting the Beauty Salon.

What is your biggest concern(s) or thing that is worrying you the most?

The loss of loved ones and the island’s capacity to cope if we had an outbreak. 

Do you have any immediate family members 65+ and over and/or anyone with underlying health conditions?

Both my grandparents have underlying illnesses and I do worry about them but having learnt that lives of the young and healthy are also taken by this virus, I fear for the lives of everyone in my family and our community.

How have you been learning about coronavirus and how well do you feel you understand the problem? 

We don’t have TV so prior to Covid19 my knowledge of international news was limited but thankfully Rick bought this to my attention early in the new year and now we never let a day pass without checking what is happening globally with Covid19, so I feel that I have an understanding of the problem and try my best to keep up to date with what’s happening in the world.

What are your thoughts on the island’s official preparations and response to the threat of Covid-19?

Very slow… considering how long this virus has been around, the preparations on island in my opinion has been delayed. The isolation facility and implementing other necessary measures have all taken much longer than they should have. I am grateful for the measures that has been taken by the South African Authorities, the locking of their borders is what has saved us thus far. What could local people or the island as a whole be doing better to prevent and/or prepare for Covid-19?

Treat this with the utmost seriousness. Adhere to isolation rules, be accepting of the isolation facilities (no one is promising 5 star hotels), and follow carefully the guidelines issued by WHO. Although I must say on the whole I feel that the Saints have been very sensible and there are signs that people are changing their habits. There is still some educating and changing of mind set as some still think that Covid19 is a mild flu. 

How have you managed with social-distancing?

This is no issue for me I will do whatever it takes to keep safe even if some say it is an over-reaction.

What would you miss the most if the shops ran out of certain items?

Fruit juice and flour.

If you were forced into self-isolation what would be top of your plan for how to get through it 

When we had the 2 cases of suspected Covid19 I stayed at home for 2 weeks, we kept occupied with gardening, films, reading, exercising, cleaning and projects around the house that you would normally be too busy to do.

What film or box set would help you through self-isolation?

Snowfall or any true story films.

What activity/event, local or global, which has been cancelled or postponed do you miss/will miss the most?

None that I can think of at this time.

Have you had travel plans for this year disrupted because of the Covid-19 outbreak?

Yes, we had a wedding and family holiday planned for August this year so our plans are postponed until we know it’s safe to travel again.

Anything else you would like to share?

Apart from not being able to wait for the day when it’s all over I would like to see honesty, unity, support and transparency from our Government leaders, and that we stick strongly by policies and procedures implemented to safeguard and protect this island. I’d like for the concerns from the people of this island to be treated with compassion, that feedback be accepted in a positive light and responded to with the utmost sensibility. I’d like that our Government show no aggressive or condescending attitude towards our people for raising concerns on a topic seriously affecting our lives.

 

 


 

Junella Moulding

Deadwood

St Helena Covid-19 Diary, 20 April 2020

Junella Moulding

 

Where do you work, what do you do and how has the situation affected your job?

I work in Customs as an Admin Supervisor. It has made me a bit more wary of coming into contact with other people as my job entails coming into contact with all kinds of people, from islanders to people coming in on flights or via yachts.

What has been the biggest disruption or impact to your daily routine or lifestyle?

Not been able to see family members as my job makes me a high risk person of coming into contact with the disease I am a bit more cautious of visiting family members who have health conditions.

What precautions are you taking to stay safe?

The precautions that I am taking is washing hands regularly, wearing gloves and mask when dealing with passengers at the airport. Trying to make my son who is 7 years old learn to wash his hands regularly as when he comes into contact with children in school.

What is your biggest concern(s) or thing that is worrying you the most?

What will happen if this virus ever comes to St Helena? Is St Helena ready for something like this, when you see how bigger countries who are better equipped to deal with the virus are struggling with equipment and staffing.

Do you have any immediate family members 65+ and over and/or anyone with underlying health conditions?

Yes, my mother and my aunt who looks after my son after school.

How have you been learning about coronavirus and how well do you feel you understand the problem?

Mainly watching the news on TV, I feel that I understand if the virus ever comes to the island we could have a major problem especially for our loved ones who have health conditions. It is frightening to hear that the youngest to die from this virus was 5 years old, it shows that not only older people will die from this.

What are your thoughts on the island’s official preparations and response to the threat of Covid-19?

I think by keeping a lockdown on the island, just allowing cargo and medical flights to come in will prevent Covid 19 from reaching St Helena as our small island is remote, this will protect us.

By allowing the flights still to arrive this is opening up to allowing the disease to come to our island especially as it takes up to 14 days for the symptoms to show, you cannot be sure to trace all the people you have come into contact with and especially if you have children who go to school how are they going to remember what children they have played with?

What could local people or the island as a whole be doing better to prevent and/or prepare for Covid-19?

Mainly to practise social-distancing, cleaning schools and other places where there is a lot of movement from the public and ensuring personal hygiene is adhered to.

How have you managed with social-distancing?

Hard, as we are a close knit community, and it is hard not to be able to hug and kiss friends and family when you meet.

What would you miss the most if the shops ran out of certain items?

Well the ship was supposed to arrive with two consignments of food and we are already short of milk, margarine and other essential foods but, the most would be chocolate as I need my chocolate to survive.

If you were forced into self-isolation what would be top of your plan for how to get through it?

As long as I have TV, a good book and chocolate I will be fine, as long as I know my son is well taken care off I would be ok in isolation for two weeks.

What film or box set would help you through self-isolation?

Chicago Fire, Chicago Med, Station 19 or any series of this kind.

Have you had travel plans for this year disrupted because of the Covid-19 outbreak?

No.

Anything else you would like to share?

Just like to thank Sharon and Darrin for the good work that they have done trying to bring information to the island.

 

 


 

Sandra Crowie

Nr Longwood Gate

St Helena Covid-19 Diary, 19 April 2020

Sandra & Arnold Crowie with their daughter, Jada

 

Where do you work, what do you do and how has the situation affected your job?

I work at Serena’s Gift Shop as a shop assistant. There we get a lot of people including tourists, at times it’s very busy and it is also a very close space. When I found out about Covid-19 I was very, very paranoid as I am just recovering from pneumonia so I decided to finish work for a while because I am very concerned of my health, my family and the island as a whole.

What has been the biggest disruption or impact to your daily routine or lifestyle?

The biggest disruption is my job as it’s my income. But, I feel that I had to do this to be on the safe side as this virus is very dangerous.

What precautions are you taking to stay safe?

My family is self-isolating and we feel it’s the best way to stay safe. Only go to the shops if it’s for fresh bread. We try to get all our essential need in.

What is your biggest concern(s) or thing that is worrying you the most?

The biggest concerns at the moment is the airport!! The Governor and all the officials has said that there are no cases of Covid-19 on the island as yet, but we can’t be sure of that as there are no testing kits here. I hope that the only planes that can come here will be for medivacs only. I wish, that they will hear our voices, yes, our voices! For once keep the planes out. Our island needs to be protected from this virus for the safety of the people

Do you have any immediate family members 65+ and over and/or anyone with underlying health conditions?

I am just recovering from pneumonia. Last month I was not feeling well at all and knowing that I was just recovering from pneumonia I had to go to see a doctor. So I went to the hospital and was told that I had caught a virus and that my lung still had a small shadow on it. I was given some steroids and during that night the cough had started and it continued to go through the entire night, into the next morning. By then I was so tired and felt very sick that by 9am I was at the hospital. I was seen by a Senior Nurse who stated that I was a very ill lady and passed me on to the doctor again. My blood pressure was higher than normal and by now my legs were giving in on me, all my joints were painful and I was still coughing. I was again given steroids and antibiotics (five kinds). I took them and during my sick days at home I felt ever so tired that all I wanted was to sleep. I was off work for two weeks and since then I still don’t feel 100% but so much better. I can say that I have never, ever felt this sick in my life.

I have a young daughter (Jada, aged 10) and we also must understand that this virus attacks all ages.

Arnold’s (husband) dad is 86 so we think about him too.

How have you been learning about coronavirus and how well do you feel you understand the problem?

Yes, we have learnt so much about this virus that it scares us.

What could local people or the island as a whole be doing better to prevent and/or prepare for Covid-19?

Please do your best to stay alert, be sensible, keep your distance, watch out for signs and pray to God to protect this island and its people.

What activity/event, local or global, which has been cancelled or postponed do you miss/will miss the most?

We are Seventh Day Adventists and our church was the first to close down because of Covid-19. We have a lot of elderly people in our church and also we are doing social distancing.

We pray that this virus will go away very soon. There has been so many deaths now, worldwide, it’s hurting everyone.

Have you had travel plans for this year disrupted because of the Covid-19 outbreak?

No, we do not have plans to travel yet.

Anything else you would like to share?

It’s only left to say, stay safe, and pray for God’s protection. God bless.

 


 

Nicola Essex

Jamestown

St Helena Covid-19 Diary, 13 April 2020

 

What has been the biggest disruption or impact to your daily routine or lifestyle?

Being asthmatic, I was one of the vulnerable groups who were advised to stay at home from 31 March for 2 weeks, and I’m grateful that I was able to do this with the support of my family and employer.  I’ve been able to work from home but I found it strange having to communicate by phone or email with people whom I’d normally see every day.  During this time, I’ve been able to go outside (for walks or a ride in the car) but avoided crowds and socializing.

What is your biggest concern(s) or thing that is worrying you the most?

I worry that the leaders of the Island are concerned with managing the views of people more than providing the necessary information to keep us safe.  What I mean by that, is that there seems to be a lot of focus lately on not criticizing the government and that we should all be working together.  I wholeheartedly agree that we should all work together but this doesn’t mean a lack of criticism; in fact, leaders should be prepared for criticism as often it leads to improved measures being in place – so criticism doesn’t necessarily detract from the business of keeping the island safe or from working together.

Do you have any immediate family members 65+ and over and/or anyone with underlying health conditions?

Yes! And I also have quite a few friends who have underlying health conditions… I think everyone can relate to this as it is no big secret that a big proportion of the population is over 65 and a bigger proportion has underlying health conditions!

How have you been learning about coronavirus and how well do you feel you understand the problem?

A mixture of TV news and news websites has been really good for me as I can choose when to watch or listen.  I’ve also been glued to the local press conferences as the press ask pertinent questions which come from the public.

What are your thoughts on the island’s official preparations and response to the threat of Covid-19?

Learning from the rest of the world, the places that seem to have the most success in controlling the spread were those that took a stringent approach from the very beginning, including closing off borders (e.g. Australia, South Africa).  South Africa did us a big favour by going into lockdown which means no more planes for a while.  My only regret is that this resulted in some nearest and dearest people being left behind – I have a nephew in the UK and close friends in South Africa so I know this is a worrying time for everybody. It was good to see that there is increasing focus on prevention on-island as I was a bit worried that some official views were that we need to accept that it’s going to come here!  I couldn’t accept that; as there were so many actions within our control that hadn’t been done and locking the stable after the horse has bolted did not seem like a good strategy to me.  In saying this, it’s also good that preparations are being ramped up in case we get confirmed cases here.

If you were forced into self-isolation what would be top of your plan for how to get through it?

The best way for me would be to look to the future and continue to work on achieving my goals and work on my aspirations further.  Exercise would also be key as keeping healthy will always be a priority.

Have you had travel plans for this year disrupted because of the Covid-19 outbreak?

Yes, we were making plans to travel in August but decided we’re going to wait until 2021 now.

Anything else you would like to share?

There is no way that an event such as this leaves no lasting impact on the world and as I’m an optimistic person I would like to think that the after effects of Covid-19 will be positive and so I’m looking forward to the possibilities this will bring…I just hope that we won’t have to suffer to get there.

 


 

James & Hannah Herne

Sandy Bay

St Helena Covid-19 Diary, 12 April 2020

James & Hannah Herne and their children, at a plaque dedication ceremony in Nov 2019, at the museum, to acknowledge their achievement as the first Saint family to circumnavigate the globe on a yacht.

 

Where do you work, what do you do and how has the situation affected your job/business?

We work for the education directorate. We have been at home following instructions to self-isolate. We have been working from home and home-schooling. 

What has been the biggest disruption or impact to your daily routine or lifestyle?

As a family we are very familiar with this way of life, being isolated from other people (after sailing around the world with our children on a 12 metre yacht for four years).

What precautions are you taking to stay safe?

Staying at home wherever possible and continuing to wash hands regularly as normal. 

What is your biggest concern(s) or thing that is worrying you the most?

We are very concerned about the prospect of the coronavirus reaching St Helena and the impact that this will have on our community. With flights continuing to come here we are very much at risk still. The UK has large numbers of deaths every day from this virus. It is very worrying that our governor is allowing flights from the UK to come here. 

Do you have any immediate family members 65+ and over and/or anyone with underlying health conditions? 

We have elderly grandparents and extended family who are vulnerable.

How have you been learning about coronavirus and how well do you feel you understand the problem?

We have been listening to the local news and international media. We know enough to be very concerned. 

What are your thoughts on the island’s official preparations and response to the threat of Covid-19?

The government have done well so far except for allowing flights to continue to come in.

What could local people or the island as a whole be doing better to prevent and/or prepare for Covid-19?

To continue to take this issue very seriously and to follow guidelines from the powers that be.

How have you managed with social-distancing?

We have been at home, together as a family. We have used this time to enjoy each other’s company.

What would you miss the most if the shops ran out of certain items?

Toilet paper!

If you were forced into self-isolation what would be top of your plan for how to get through it?

If isolated alone, do lots of gardening, reading and baking.

What film or box set would help you through self-isolation?

Darling Buds of May.

What activity/event, local or global, which has been cancelled or postponed do you miss/will miss the most?

If it was to be cancelled, the Cape to St Helena Yacht Race. We would be very disappointed.

Have you had travel plans for this year disrupted because of the Covid-19 outbreak?

Possibly the yacht race in December. 

Anything else you would like to share?

Thank you Darrin and Sharon for speaking up for the community of St Helena and for being our advocates. Keep up the great work!!

 

 


 

Ralph Peters

Woodlands West, Blue Hill

St Helena Covid-19 Diary, 11 April 2020

Ralph & Hazel Peters

 

Where do you work, what do you do and how has the situation affected your job?

I’m retired and do part-time work with the ship MV Helena. It hasn’t affected my part-time work. They had a few precautions in place; every morning we got our temperature checked by the medics. Thank God I was within the 36C range! There were facilities for handwashing etc. I work on the wharf so it wasn’t as bad as working on the ship, where they had extra precautions.

What has been the biggest disruption or impact to your daily routine or lifestyle?

There hasn’t really been any, because we don’t go out much. We’re both retired (wife Hazel) and we stay home.  We go to the shop and that’s about all. We used to go to the Blue Lamp Club down at Ladder Hill but now it’s shut down, we don’t go anywhere except to the shop.

What precautions are you taking to stay safe?

Social-distancing, that is number one, and handwashing.

What is your biggest concern or thing that is worrying you the most?

If we do have an outbreak here, and how would we handle it.

Do you have any immediate family members 65+ and over and/or anyone with underlying health conditions?

Not really.

How have you been learning about coronavirus and how well do you feel you understand the problem?

I don’t think anybody really quite understands what the problem is. Nobody can find out the cause, there’s a lot of speculation as to what started it off in the first place. I watch TV, I listen to the radio and that’s how I learned about it.

What are your thoughts on the island’s official preparations and response to the threat of Covid-19?

Well I think they’re taking the right steps in preparation. The thing is we don’t know if it is here because we don’t have any test kits. What I was wondering about is that they said to some people, we’re going to put you in two weeks’ isolation, for what I don’t have much of an idea about that. But the thing is, if we don’t know it’s here, then why are you isolating? Because after the two weeks up then if it does come here you’ve got to go back into isolation. It’s confusing.

What could local people or the island as a whole be doing better to prevent and/or prepare for Covid-19?

Well I think they doing all what the medics said to do. I don’t know what else they could do? Like I said, we don’t know if it’s here. That’s our problem. Until we know that…  We have four ventilators here now, two on the way. We have 4,000 people, God forbid I hope it don’t breakout here but if it does, it’s going to be like in Italy. Where they don’t have sufficient apparatus, so the doctors have to make a decision, do I save you, or you, who am I going to let go? Not a nice thought but, there it is.

How have you managed with social-distancing?

We’re doing good at the moment.

What would you miss the most if the shops ran out of certain items?

Well I gave up smoking so I won’t worry about cigarettes! Bread, if they ever stopped baking bread, we’d miss that.

If you were forced into self-isolation what would be top of your plan for how to get through it?

I would read, I love reading, that’s about the best thing I can do.

What film or box set would help you through self-isolation?

One Foot In The Grave. If that don’t cheer you up, nothing will.

What activity/event, local or global, which has been cancelled or postponed do you miss/will miss the most?

None.

Have you had travel plans for this year disrupted because of the Covid-19 outbreak?

No.

Anything else you would like to share?

I think we’ve covered it all.

 

 


 

Samara Isaac

Georgetown, Ascension. Formerly of Hutt’s Gate.

Arrived on the last Airlink flight 21 Mar, currently in self-isolation until midnight 10/4/20.

St Helena Covid-19 Diary, 10 April 2020

Alex Augustus and Samara Isaac

 

Where do you work, what do you do and how has the situation affected your job?

We both work on Ascension Island. I am a Dental Nurse and Alex is a Quantity Surveyor. At present we are not sure when we will get back….

What has been the biggest disruption or impact to your daily routine or lifestyle?
Being away from our normal place of work we are naturally out of our daily routine. But being put into isolation outside of our normal home and during what was supposed to be a holiday period is challenging to say the least. The biggest disruption came hours before we were due to take off on a holiday in Asia. It was cancelled due to the ever changing travel restrictions being put into place around Asia at that time. As a last minute substitute we decided to book flights from Johannesburg to Cape Town for a fortnight, however, that only lasted a few days!

What precautions are you taking to stay safe?
Because we were going on holiday we had stocked up on plenty hand sanitiser, anti-bacterial wipes and a few other bits and bobs. Plus, we had already prepared ourselves with keeping a distance in public and continuously washing our hands.

What is your biggest concern(s) or thing that is worrying you the most?
My main concern would be that the virus is already within the Island Community and not yet detected. Also I am worried for the healthcare workers here and whether the island is equipped and ready to deal with something that even the best of the best are struggling to cope with.

Do you have any immediate family members 65+ and over and/or anyone with underlying health conditions?
We have quite a few elderly family members and those whom have underlying health conditions. We are always concerned about their health and wellbeing, and now even more so!

How have you been learning about coronavirus and how well do you feel you understand the problem?
Since January we had been keeping up to date daily through TV news programmes, PHE, and the WHO. Given the information and statistics at that time we were comfortable to continue with our holiday plans and had made some adjustments and stocked up on various items as a preventive measure to help us.

What are your thoughts on the island’s official preparations and response to the threat of Covid-19?
SHG seems to have made an adequate effort and did what they were advised to do as best as they could. But I do think that at times the information they give can be conflicting. Also I think that SHG need to be tactful in what they issue as a press release… Being a small island with a close and known community, confidentiality is important and is a very sensitive subject, sometimes people speculate which leaves little or no privacy for those affected.

What could local people or the island as a whole be doing better to prevent and/or prepare for Covid-19?
I can understand the panic but I do hope people here give consideration to others and not bulk buy, some cannot afford to, others cannot necessarily get to the shops as soon as goods are unpacked…
I think we should all practice social distancing with organisations promoting this and helping to making it possible.
I like to think that we all wash our hands regularly and adequately on a daily basis, however, now more than ever we should make it habitual.

How have you managed with social-distancing?
This was something we had prepared for before going on holiday. I don’t mind being socially selective.  Although it has been difficult being ‘home’ on holiday and not being able to see family.

What would you miss the most if the shops ran out of certain items?
I’m not sure… Growing up here and living on Ascension it’s quite normal and expected that at times we run out of certain things. Having said that if we ran out of internet then I would really struggle!

If you were forced into self-isolation what would be top of your plan for how to get through it?
We are in compulsory isolation as per SHG legal requirements, we don’t have a plan but we have a countdown. An extended countdown… Having had our two weeks extended to three weeks here and then we need to prepare for the two weeks isolation that awaits us on our return to Ascension  We are going to be pro’s at this!

What film or box set would help you through self-isolation?
After a few full days of watching anything whether it was a box set, a film or whatever was on TV we just lost interest! Although I’m slightly addicted to Aircraft Investigations and the Discovery ID Channel!

Have you had travel plans for this year disrupted because of the Covid-19 outbreak?
We had originally planned to spend six weeks travelling through Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam but within hours of our flight there was restrictions put into place by Asian Governments and the FCO so we couldn’t travel to Asia. As a last minute decision having not been able to cancel flights between here and Johannesburg, we decided to settle with spending two weeks in Cape Town… Instead after three days we were flying back to Johannesburg in a hurry hoping to catch the last confirmed flight back to St Helena. So lots off insurance paper work awaits us and of course the planning of another holiday for when (or if) the world gets back to being pre 2020!

Anything else you would like to share?
Without sounding condescending I would just like to clarify some misunderstandings with regards to Bradley’s Camp. We along with four other individuals were taken to the isolation camp a few days after we arrived on Island. As a group we decided that we could not stay there due to a few genuine safety concerns. We relayed these to the appropriate people and we were then taken back to our previous accommodation. We are not sure what was said on the radio after we had voiced our concerns not to stay at Bradleys but as a result of it there were a few comments posted on social media.

Mostly false and misinterpreted allegations, some unkind, and some hostile. Firstly, the rooms were clean and habitable, I have personally paid to stay in accommodation a lot worse than that. Having all travelled back from Johannesburg we didn’t have any toiletries and there was none provided. We had a single communal area for tea and coffee, a fridge, a landline and a TV. The problem was this was located a few hundred meters away from the living accommodation over loose and uneven terrain without any lighting (we arrived after 6pm). We had no mobile network on site and no torches but we had two members of the group with serious medical conditions, one required a fridge for their vital medication and another with impaired eye sight. So in the event of an emergency at night one of us would’ve had to navigate unfamiliar surroundings to get to a phone to call for help.

This was a cause for concern for all of us. We did not rebel because we didn’t have WiFi or 5-star accommodation and we were not being selfish. None of us wanted to be thought of as problematic and refusing to isolate therefore potentially putting the Island at risk of COVID 19.

It was evident that in a short time SHG had worked hard and around the clock to renovate Bradley’s Camp for isolation purposes that was clearly visible. Like many things we learn from trial and error, some small details were overlooked but that’s expected. These are unprecedented times and the pandemic is a learning experience worldwide not just here. Hopefully now Bradley’s Camp is more functional and equipped for the purpose of isolation and fully able to provide the best care and services to help prevent and manage this pandemic if or when it reaches us.

 


 

Johnny Herne

Half Tree Hollow

St Helena Covid-19 Diary, 7 April 2020

Johnny Herne

 

Where do you work, what do you do and how has the situation affected your business?

I’m self-employed as a marine tour operator and I manage and operate the local ferry service. There are no tourists, no big gathering for trips of both tourists and locals, trips have really slowed down.

What has been the biggest disruption or impact to your daily routine or lifestyle?

No work, no income.

What precautions are you taking to stay safe?

Staying at home to protect myself and my family.

What is your biggest concern(s) or thing that is worrying you the most?

When am I going back to work again?

Do you have any immediate family members 65+ and over and/or anyone with underlying health conditions?

Yes.

How have you been learning about coronavirus and how well do you feel you understand the problem?

Listening to the children, listening to the radio, the internet, I feel I understand it enough to know the dangers.

What are your thoughts on the island’s official preparations and response to the threat of Covid-19?

No test kits to confirm cases, island leaders need to take this more seriously regardless if the virus is not here.

What could local people or the island as a whole be doing better to prevent and/or prepare for Covid-19?

Stop the flights, maintain social-distancing, community/island spirit – help others in need no matter how big or small.

How have you managed with social-distancing?

Staying at home, away from large crowds.

What would you miss the most if the shops ran out of certain items?

Cigarettes, beer, chocolate and chips.

If you were forced into self-isolation what would be top of your plan for how to get through it?

A good selection of movies, documentaries, series, etc. Stock up on essential supplies, gardening.

What film or box set would help you through self-isolation?

Documentaries.

What activity/event, local or global, which has been cancelled or postponed do you miss/will miss the most?

None.

Have you had travel plans for this year disrupted because of the Covid-19 outbreak?

No.

Anything else you would like to share?

I, like many others have frozen the loan repayments [Bank of St Helena] for 3 months, but if after that time, business does not pick up, how are we able to make the payments? What is the next step for this???

 


 

Pamela Lawrence

Sugar Loaf View Lane, Half Tree Hollow

St Helena Covid-19 Diary, 6 April 2020

Pamela Lawrence

 

Where do you work, what do you do and how has the situation affected your job?

I’m retired.

What has been the biggest disruption or impact to your daily routine or lifestyle?

Unable to attend my weekly yoga class, meet vulnerable family members, friends and various other group functions.

What precautions are you taking to stay safe?

Practicing extra good hygiene and social distancing as well as taking care with my own personal health and well-being.

What is your biggest concern(s) or thing that is worrying you the most?

  1. Very close family members in the UK who are extremely vulnerable to the effects of Covid-19.
  2. That the local authorities on St Helena who are leading the crisis may not have taken the chance earlier on to minimize the likelihood of the virus coming on to the island, by allowing the last two flights from Jo’burg to bring in persons, other than returning Saints and any essential medical staff.  That despite the “stricter” rules in place surrounding ‘self-isolation’ prompt enforcement is needed and seen to be taken to avoid the kind of developments whereby we have already had two suspected cases of Covid-19 on island. I am not fully confident that there is sufficient openness and honesty in communication despite the efforts being made to improve PR.
  3. Although there will be test kits and PPE arriving soon, we are also hugely dependent on minimum medical and nursing resources; elderly care staff and other essential support workers.
  4. Are we getting “the message through” to all about the seriousness of Covid-19 to enable collective responsibility for how we come through this crisis.

Do you have any immediate family members 65+ and over and/or anyone with underlying health conditions?

Yes, my Mum is over 70, I have a daughter who is asthmatic; others here, in the UK and USA who are extremely vulnerable due to age and underlying serious health conditions and also by occupation. One in the UK has already had to self-isolate due to exposure to a client who then tested positive for Covid-19. I am an insulin-dependent diabetic.

How have you been learning about coronavirus and how well do you feel you understand the problem?

I feel I have a fairly good understanding of this unprecedented world crisis from the TV, radio, the internet and regular discussions with members of my family, one of whom is medically trained. We appreciate there is still a lot to learn about Covid-19. I understand that “mild symptoms” does not mean a “mild infection” – and any infection is highly contagious. Mild symptoms can progress to more serious health issues.

What are your thoughts on the island’s official preparations and response to the threat of Covid-19?

The “manner” of communication has improved from the first media conference on 17 March! Unfortunately, from the onset, the approach seemed to lean too much towards accepting that the arrival of Covid-19 was inevitable rather than taking a proactive approach, using our isolated position to do all possible to prevent C-19 reaching St Helena. A robust “preventative” approach should still be the first priority with the welcomed stricter controls (and consequences) fully enforced when “self-isolation” is required.

I respect the hard work being done at all levels to prepare for the likelihood of Covid-19 cases arriving on island. If mistakes are made these should be “unavoidable mistakes” because “we didn’t know any better”. Less defensiveness and more collaborative working together at all levels and with media to disseminate vital information, promote good practices and share constructive ideas for managing our island situation should be the order of the day. We have had time to get our house in order in the best way we can with what we have and whilst using the WHO and PHE scientific advice to underpin what actions are taken, we also need to use local solutions for local problems.

What could local people or the island as a whole be doing better to prevent and/or prepare for Covid-19?

Compared to what I’ve seen happening in various countries around the world, I feel the island has collectively made a huge effort to curtail many functions, close or reduce businesses’ and generally make some life changes. There is still more that can be done to ensure best practice in social distancing. Individual’s taking responsibility is essential.

Everyone needs to be included in in the communication loop so that they are fully aware of the seriousness of Covid-19 and what they must do to care for their health and that of others. Not everyone on island has internet or a television to see what’s happening in the outside world – not everyone necessarily listens to radio regularly or even have a telephone – isolated/excluded persons in society need to be identified, informed and helped. We all can help with this where we can but local authorities need to initiate this.

I hope people observe protocols put in place already by shops and businesses especially when fresh goods are on sale in shops since the arrival of the MV Helena and avoid crowding the shops and panic buying.

How have you managed with social-distancing?

This is a simple enough practice and I have had no problems so far.

What would you miss the most if the shops ran out of certain items?

More than shops – I hope general medical supplies are able to get through to us. For me it is insulin but there will be the same concern for others according to their health status.

Fruit juices, I use these to maintain glucose levels.

If you were forced into self-isolation what would be top of your plan for how to get through it?

I am already avoiding crowds, shopping etc. I am really well- occupied at home and use telephone and social media to communicate with others.

What film or box set would help you through self-isolation?

I like a variety of TV programmes, I’m currently watching Heartland and have lots of old British comedies to view! Just finished watching “The Way” and “Walking the Camino”. There is always a lot of gardening to keep up with and the inevitable domestic chores, cooking and baking.

What activity/event, local or global, which has been cancelled or postponed do you miss/will miss the most?

Yoga sessions have already had to be cancelled. Total isolation would mean not visiting my Mum and other family, or have them visit me.

Have you had travel plans for this year disrupted because of the Covid-19 outbreak?

Possibly travelling at the end of year.

Anything else you would like to share?

Would just like to emphasize the importance of everyone playing their part and taking responsibility for their individual actions to prevent/help stop the spread of Covid-19 on island. Remember – it is not just about “me” it is about the actions you take that could affect everyone, including those nearest and dearest to you.

Stay safe.

 

 


 

Stephanie Williams

Hutts Gate

St Helena Covid-19 Diary, 5 April 2020

Stephanie Williams

 

Where do you work, what do you do and how has the situation affected your job?

I work for Rose & Crown who has taken it upon themselves to allow five us to self-isolate for 14 days as a precaution because we have health conditions.

What has been the biggest disruption or impact to your daily routine or lifestyle?

Not being able to work.

What precautions are you taking to stay safe?

Self-distancing and self-isolating.

What is your biggest concern(s) or thing that is worrying you the most?

My biggest concern is if the Covid-19 is here, I hope are we going to cope.

Do you have any immediate family members 65+ and over and/or anyone with underlying health conditions?

Yes, myself, I have an underlying health condition and I also have a 15-month old granddaughter.

How have you been learning about this coronavirus and how well do you feel you understand the problem?

We have been watching TV & listening to St FM I have learnt enough to help ourselves to stay safe.

What are your thoughts on the island’s official preparations and response to the threat of Covid-19?

I think the island is responding well.

What could local people or the island as a whole be doing better to prevent and/or prepare for Covid-19?

The main thing is to practise social-distancing and follow all the guidelines.

How have you managed with social-distancing?

Thanks to technology we can still keep in touch with family and friends.

What would you miss the most if the shops ran out of certain items?

Would definitely miss toilet rolls.

If you were forced into self-isolation what would be top of your plan for how to get through it?

To make my family comfortable and find things to keep us occupied.

What film or box set would help you through self-isolation?

I’m not into films but as long as there is a game show on TV or cooking show.

Have you had travel plans for this year disrupted because of the Covid-19 outbreak?

No.

Anything else you would like to share?

I would like to thank Mr & Mrs Thomas and Tara Wortley for thinking about the safety of their staff.

 

 


 

April Peters

Swindon, England

St Helena Covid-19 Diary, 4 April 2020

 

Where do you work, what do you do and how has the situation affected your job?

I work as a part-time waitress in a small restaurant which my manager kept open as long she could. At this time the government guidelines weren’t restrictive and instead we were urged not to go to pubs and restaurants. As expected business dropped two weeks prior to the government announcement that all restaurants and bars must shut down indefinitely. Currently I am unsure about when I’ll return to work, but that’s not my greatest concern.

What has been the biggest disruption or impact on your daily routine or lifestyle? 

The greatest impact on my lifestyle is firstly the three week lock down that was initiated on the 23rd March, without a clear indication of when it will end. I’m a third year college student finishing off an A level and starting a new A level as a fast-track program. I am worried about whether I’ll get into university as my predicted grades hasn’t been calculated yet, and the education system is confused about the government’s plans. I currently have “virtual learning” where I must follow my normal timetable and complete assessments which might go towards my final grade. There’s a lot of uncertainty at the moment which is worrying.

What’s your biggest concern or thing that is worrying you the most?

One of my main concerns is the safety of NHS staff. My mum’s a nurse working on the front line where she’s unable to practice social distancing like the rest of us. I sincerely hope she doesn’t get COVID-19 and is able to care for those that need her.

I’m also worried for the elderly who not only are high risk but we’re also greatly affected by unnecessary selfishness. By this I mean bulk buying and selling products at unreasonable prices, which left a lot of elderly without basic necessities. Fortunately, shops have put in place allocated time slots for the elderly and key workers.

How have you managed with social distancing?

I’ve managed quite well, it’s easier to stay inside with social media and good internet. I spend my time writing essays, watching maybe too much Netflix and finding ways to “damage” my hair.

Have you had any travel plans for this year disrupted because of the COVID-19 outbreak?

We planned to come home (St Helena) after I finished my exams to visit my sister and my niece. I’d like to have hope that if everyone practices good hygiene and social distancing this nightmare will end. Realistically we need to be safe for ourselves and others, so our trip probably will be postponed.

Anything else you’d like to share? 

I think we all need to look out for each other, especially those with mental health issues. Yes, self-isolation is easier in England but it can also be lonely and stressful. I think it’s important to encourage your love ones to go on walks, get some fresh air, find a positive hobby and eat proper meals. I know from personal experience these things can be hard and it’s easier to stay in bed and eat junk; basically forget COVID-19 exists. Fortunately, I have my parents “nagging” and my connection with friends.

 


 

Christabelle Wade

Bottom Woods

St Helena Covid-19 Diary, 2 April 2020

Christabelle Wade

 

Where do you work, what do you do and how has the situation affected your job?

I work as a lay advocate. I do criminal and civil matters, represent people if they have to attend the police station or court. I also help people with any legal matters that they need assistance with. Our role is very varied.

How has this affected my job? Hmm well, we are still trying to continue as normal as much as possible, however some of our clients are elderly so I have either contacted them over the phone or if I need to meet, then try to practice social distancing as is possible. Any meetings have been conducted as a priority.

What has been the biggest disruption or impact to your daily routine or lifestyle?

So far it hasn’t disrupted much yet!! If anything it has freed up some time for me, I am normally at the pool most days waiting for swim training to finish, and now that it has been postponed, I have more time. Although having the boys home all the time is giving me less time to complete other things that I would normally be doing, hats off to the teachers, (I couldn’t do it).

What precautions are you taking to stay safe?

More hand washing than usual, social distancing, making sure we are taking our vitamins (I should say the boys are)

What is your biggest concern(s) or thing that is worrying you the most?

Not being able to spend time with my family when they need me the most. The care of my boys if their dad or me gets ill. Unknowingly carrying the virus and spreading it.

Do you have any immediate family members 65+ and over and/or anyone with underlying health conditions?

My dad, Crocky’s dad and my grandma have diabetes.

How have you been learning about coronavirus and how well do you feel you understand the problem?

I’m not sure if I will fully understand the problem, I mean its evolving every day, but we listen to the radio for updates, we have Sky news on, checking the internet, we are always talking to the boys about how its changing, to make sure they can understand the severity of it. It’s really scary.

What are your thoughts on the island’s official preparations and response to the threat of Covid-19?

Without wanting to sound negative, I don’t feel that enough has been done. Yes, they have put measures in place, but is it too late? We have known about this for months but little has been done, the things that have been put in place and was told was suitable, have now been said not to be. We have been told that the tests would have been here in two weeks, it didn’t happen and then the latest press release said a further few weeks. I know we are isolated, but just be honest and tell people that they are still being sourced rather than giving a time of when they should be here.

What could local people or the island as a whole be doing better to prevent and/or prepare for Covid-19?

Protect themselves and thus protect others. Listen to the news, listen to the advice that has been given out, keep outings to an absolute minimum.

How have you managed with social-distancing?

It’s hard, I am still going out for work. I have however tried to minimise going into shops unless I need to.

What would you miss the most if the shops ran out of certain items?

As Saints we are very use to running out or being low on items and just make adjustments until it becomes available again. There was a time I would have said coke and chocolate in a heartbeat, but I started healthier me in January and that’s not something I crave any more. Probably nuts or popcorn, oh and medicines! How could I miss that one?

If you were forced into self-isolation what would be top of your plan for how to get through it?

We have actually been talking about this one a lot, we have identified an isolation room, and the roles that each of us would be doing. Lots of books board games and movies, and making sure that the boys were coping ok throughout it all.

What film or box set would help you through self-isolation?

I like old movies, have to get the DVDs back out and have actually been stocking up on some series, so hopefully something good will be there.

What activity/event, local or global, which has been cancelled or postponed do you miss/will miss the most?

I miss my days of sitting poolside chatting with the other parents whilst waiting on swim training to finish. Also I would miss my personal training sessions (didn’t think I would be saying that considering how I feel at the end of most sessions).

Have you had travel plans for this year disrupted because of the Covid-19 outbreak?

We were planning on taking the Yellow Fins Swim Group to Botswana this year for a swim competition. They have all been training so hard towards this, and is one dedicated group of young individuals.

Anything else you would like to share?

I am here if anyone needs any help during this time, be it shopping, a telephone call, dropping of something, walking your pet if you are unable to. Give me a call, and I will be only too happy to help, my mobile is 67100.

Also if anyone out there is willing to help set up a volunteers help group for people in need at this time, then please get in touch with me.

Stay safe and protect Saint Helena!!

 


 

Isaac Greentree

Longwood Road

St Helena Covid-19 Diary, 1 April 2020

Isaac Greentree walking his dog, ‘Mable’ on Tomb Road

 

What do you do and how has the situation affected your schooling?

I am currently in my last year of 6th form Yr. 13 and as of a few weeks ago I thought I had everything figured out, but due to COVID-19 that idea went straight out the window. At present It is unknown how we will be awarded our A-level grades which are a crucial step to university. I had originally planned when I finish 6th form to conduct work with Sure SA, but at this time I am still seriously concerned with how we will be awarded fair, equal and true-full grades that reflect our real potential.

What has been the biggest disruption or impact to your daily routine or lifestyle?

The biggest disruption to my routine is going to school every day, this has seriously interrupted my daily life thus far. With our first exam scheduled for the end of the month, we still do not know whether we will do mock exams instead or other assessment methods on these dates. All this is very worrying as this is now the time when we start to apply for university, however all this has been put on hold due to this global pandemic.

What precautions are you taking to stay safe?

I am currently practising social distancing as insisted by SHG, by limiting close contact with large groups and gatherings, cease visiting the bars and clubs, and limiting our social interactions to the bare minimum.

What is your biggest concern(s) or thing that is worrying you the most?

My biggest concern is our ageing population on St Helena and the high levels of chronic diseases on St Helena. This combined with the limited amount of health care facilities, I find that if COVID-19 does make its way to St Helena this will be catastrophic for our community and wreak havoc through St Helena’s close knit community.

Do you have any immediate family members 65 and over and/or anyone with underlying health conditions?

My grandma lives with us who is 94 years old, although she does not have any underlying health conditions or chronic diseases, she is still in the high risk category. With me being in close contact with her it is somewhat concerning for me personally.

How have you been learning about coronavirus and how well do you feel you understand the problem?

My understanding of this virus is that it is airborne, it also lasts on hard surfaces for a while and currently there is no cure. For someone who is healthy and have no chronic diseases it is less worrying compared to someone who for instance has diabetes. The worry factor is that you can be a carrier or have the virus and not even be aware of it. However, if everyone practises good hygiene and takes it seriously and abide by self-isolation rules the spread can be reduced dramatically.

What are your thoughts on the island’s official preparations and response to the threat of Covid-19?

In my honest opinion the Island has been very slow in preparation for this virus. Only now when there is suspected cases are plans being put into place and precautions taken. I feel Bradleys quarantine should have been competed weeks ago ensuring it is fit for purpose should it need to be used.

What could local people or the island as a whole be doing better to prevent and/or prepare for Covid-19?

The island should practice social distancing to extreme measures to ensure our vulnerable members of the community are safe from this pandemic. I do feel Government should take initiative and enforce a ban on bars, clubs and restaurants opening, but also come up with a plan to ensure the owners can still be covered financially.

How have you managed with social-distancing?

It is really hard; however, I understand that this will not last forever. I am currently keeping myself busy with adequate school work and chores, to ensure I’ve always got something to do.

What would you miss the most if the shops ran out of certain items?

In honesty being a Saint we are quite use to not having certain items or going without, so there are no such items in particular I would miss should the shops start running out of goods.

If you were forced into self-isolation what would be top of your plan for how to get through it?

Having an agenda for everyday would be my best bet, so I know what to do and when to do it. This would be just to add some organisation to my days and ensuring I’ve always got tasks to complete.

Have you had travel plans for this year disrupted because of the Covid-19 outbreak?

I also had planned to go for a holiday after school to visit my sister in the UK and have a break, however at this point of time I see that being a somewhat distant reality.

 


 

Tyanne Williams

Alarm Hill

St Helena Covid-19 Diary, 30 March 2020

 

What do you do and how has the situation affected your schooling?

I am an A-level student, studying at Prince Andrew School. I’m doing my final year and have aspirations to further my education at uni level. Although schools are currently closed due to influenza, Covid-19 has put a setback on my plans for the future, as all exams are cancelled and I’m not sure what is an alternative for achieving the grades I would like to achieve.

What has been the biggest disruption or impact to your daily routine or lifestyle?

Starting this year, I was preparing and ready to sit my exams in April, May and June. This situation has left me feeling uncertain about my future.

Obviously I went to school on a daily basis, where there are resources and I got assistance from my teachers. So the biggest disruption to my daily routine is not being able to study in a suitable environment. Studying from home is fine but having a younger brother around is a big distraction as well as not be able to benefit from resources I would have had in school, like the internet or a printer.

What precautions are you taking to stay safe?

I am taking precautions to keep myself and my family safe, as like most people on island I have elderly family members. I practise self-isolating from everyone by staying home and constantly using anti-bacterial gel.

What is your biggest concerns or thing that is worrying you the most?

This virus has brought big concerns to me personally and the island as a whole. Generally, I am worried that the island will run out of day to day supplies and if there does happen to be a case/cases on island – what would happen? Is St Helena prepared?

More specifically to me, I am worried about not achieving my required grades, because like most people, I usually perform better in tests than how I do during classes. No one really knows when this will be over, it could get worse for all we know, so there is a chance that me, along with a few others from Year 13 won’t be going to uni next year.

What could local people or the island as a whole be doing better to prevent and/or prepare for Covid-19?

This is a hard time for all, I do think that the island should all support each other and practise self-isolating as the island is clear of cases. I do have a younger brother and I don’t think he understands the full dangers of not putting his hands in his mouth even though we do stress about it to him constantly!

How have you managed with social-distancing?

Whilst we have been off from school, I have been so bored. I’ve run out of megabytes and even watching a movie or series is boring. So being at home has allowed me to more focus on school work because it’s the only thing that occupies me.

Anything else you would like to share?

Overall I can’t wait for the all clear from Covid-19.

 


 

Virginia Benjamin

Jamestown, St Helena

St Helena Covid-19 Diary, 27 March 2020

Stuart & Virginia Benjamin keeping the gate closed to their home in Jamestown.

 

Where do you work and how if at all has the situation affected your job?

I work at the SHCC (St Helena Community College) as a tutor and all classes have been cancelled. So I have no job at the moment.

 

What has been the biggest disruption or impact on your daily routine or lifestyle?

Being as we have our son at home, our daily routine has to work around him now.

 

What precautions are you taking to stay safe?

We are self-distancing and self-isolating ourselves from family and friends and only going out to do essential shopping.

 

What is your biggest concern?

Kids returning back to school and not having the test kits to confirm whether or not Covid-19 is actually here.

 

Do you have any immediate family members 65+ and over and/or anyone with underlying health conditions?

Yes we do, here and in Cape Town.

 

How have you been learning about this coronavirus and how well do you feel you understand the problem?

We have been listening to the news on island, watching the news on TV and learning from family members abroad in the thick of it. We feel we understand enough to help ourselves to stay safe.

 

What are your thoughts on the island’s official preparations and response to the threat of Covid-19?

Overall the island is responding well and has put in play good preparations, but more needs to be put in place for the elderly and the young ones.

 

What could local people or the island as a whole be doing better to prevent and/or prepare for Covid-19?

There could be more self-distancing and to be more aware of what’s going on. Life must go on but very cautiously.

 

How have you managed with social-distancing?

We use the internet more and make more phone calls to friends and family.

 

What would you miss the most if the shops ran out of certain items?

Our toiletries for keeping up with the hygienic side of things.

 

If you were forced into self-isolation what would be top of your plan for how to get through it?

We would firstly, make sure our child is comfortable and kept happy and then find things for us to do to stay occupied.

 

What film or box set would help you through self-isolation?

We have hard drives full of movies so anything is good.

 

What activity/event, local or global, which has been cancelled or postponed do you miss/will miss the most?

None

 

Have you had travel plans for this year disrupted because of the Covid-19 outbreak?

No

 

Anything else you would like to share?

Just to say, keep up with all the prevention’s and to protect our elderly and future generation especially. We hope for the immediate future that the right decisions are made.

 


 

Noleen Fowler

Nr Half Way, St Pauls

St Helena Covid-19 Diary, 27 March, 2020

Noleen Fowler has closed her beauty salon for two weeks as a precaution

 

What do you do and how has the situation affected your job/business?

I own a beauty salon in Jamestown, Essence Beauty Salon. To be honest, business has slowed a bit because people are practicing social distancing.  We sanitise surfaces, tools and towels but we are physically close to our customers so people are more reluctant right now. Hopefully as time goes on, people will feel more secure with the prevention measures government have put in place to try and prevent the virus from getting to the Island.

If business continues to suffer, I hope government will be able to help under the sector I fall in. I have taken the decision to close the salon for 2 weeks in total and reopen on Friday 2/4 /20. This closing is in line with the two-week isolation of the last passengers to St Helena. If no symptoms arise after 2 weeks, and with no flights coming in until April, we will feel more confident to offer treatments to our clients. The decision was not taken lightly, but to protect our clients who are young and elderly and also pregnant customers.

 

What has been the biggest disruption or impact on your daily routine or lifestyle?

We as a family are trying to avoid big crowds as part of practicing social-distancing.

 

What precautions are you taking to stay safe?

At home we have tried to emphasise the importance of hand washing the proper way, especially for the children. I think the schools have done a good job of that with the kids as well. Wash our hands whenever we come into the house. We are also taking our vitamins to help boost our immune system. Wiping down our door handles etc in the house. And a big thing we try to remember is to wipe down our mobile phones!

At work in the salon we have cranked up cleaning of surfaces, towels and tools. We always have done so, but now we do it tenfold and have changed some of our cleaning solutions.

 

What is your biggest concern?

Oh, I have many concerns but my biggest concern out of all of it is – if me or my partner gets critically ill – who will look after my kids? And if they get sick – what will happen to them? I won’t want to leave them.

I also fear the virus could be circulating here already, quietly and undetected without us knowing until it’s too late – as we have seen happen in Italy. Let’s hope it isn’t and if it is, we will be prepared as much as St Helena can be. My wish is that we had the ability to test for it, but I know test kits are in high demand around the world.

I also hope we pay close attention to what is going on in Africa, our closest link to the outside world… Their cases are starting to ramp up.

 

Do you have any immediate family members 65+ and over and/or anyone with underlying health conditions?

Yes, I have a grandma who has a lung condition. As well as my partner’s grandma who has diabetes.

 

How have you been learning about this coronavirus and how well do you feel you understand the problem?

We have BBC and Sky news on constantly in our house and check the WHO website regularly for more facts. We also follow a great YouTube channel of Dr John Campbell who gives practical advice and up to date information on keeping ourselves safe and the tracking the effect of the virus globally.

I do feel I have a good understanding of what’s going on which is why I dread if it comes here. Let’s not forget, symptoms can be mild and thousands have recovered from this but St Helena has a high aging population. Diabetes and cancer patients also high.

 

What are your thoughts on the island’s official preparations and response to the threat of Covid-19?

At first, like many Islanders, I honestly thought why can’t we stop commercial flights? Just allow medivacs and supplies in and out. Rely on the ship for our lifeline for now as we always have done in the past. Use our isolation to our advantage. Yes, I know we have people saying, well if it’s going to come we have to accept it, but – we don’t have the facilities, equipment, PPE, and quantity of healthcare and key workers that we will need for the volume of people that will be ill or critically ill. It has brought major developed countries to their knees because they just can’t cope with the speed at which people are walking through their hospital doors.

Stop commercial flights and give us time to get in our much anticipated test kits and ventilators for the future.

With our borders closed, residences and most businesses will feel more confident to carry on as normal.

I have a feeling many Islanders feel this way, but we have been told this wouldn’t work.

At the moment, I do have more comfort in the fact that South Africa has closed its borders to places affected, which provides a bit of a shield for us here. It is also better that government have stopped the flights to now every two weeks and are also monitoring yachts that are able to come here, which I do hope is happening.

Everyone who comes to the Island is to have a 2-week quarantine which is a help and I also hope that everyone sticks to the strict guidelines to be effective. I think it is good they have a dedicated facility out at Bradley’s for those infected or in quarantine. I also recognise the hard work that has been done to get this up and running. I appreciate public health trying to be as prepared as they possibly can be here and sourcing more ventilators which are in high demand all over the world.

Hopefully we can get more PPE for our health care workers and carers. I think increased communication with the public is absolutely key to keeping us updated which helps to reduce anxiety somewhat. Especially to really listen to the public’s worries as they are valid and real.

I understand everyone is doing their best with what they have. If we aren’t going to close our borders completely, I hope that we are prepared if covid-19 appears here. We will need to be.

 

What could local people or the island as a whole be doing better to prevent and/or prepare for Covid-19?

Definitely listen to the advice given about social-distancing, hand-washing and avoiding crowds. Keep our home disinfected, not forgetting our mobile phones. Boost our immune system with getting efficient sleep, fruits and vegetables or supplements. Because we have no test kits to know for sure whether covid-19 is here, we have to be cautious.

 

How have you managed with social-distancing?

It can be a challenge because our culture is very tactile and friendly. I think we are slowly getting the hang of it though!

 

What would you miss the most if the shops ran out of certain items?

Would miss soap and hand wash! Medicines! We usually run out of potatoes and onion so we’re used to that! Have to start planting my own!

 

If you were forced into self-isolation what would be top of your plan for how to get through it?

Develop a system if one of us did get the virus to determine what rooms they would use.

Keep the kids busy and keep positive!

 

What film or box-set would help you through self-isolation?

Digging in to Game of Thrones again… But then nothing in the house would get done!

 

What activity/event, local or global, which has been cancelled or postponed do you miss/will miss the most?

We are planning our wedding for next year – if I have to cancel that it won’t be a good thing! But hopefully we all be OK by then.

 

Have you had travel plans for this year disrupted because of the Covid-19 outbreak?

No, not for this year.

 

Anything else you would like to share?

Looking at the news, I feel so lucky right now to be on St Helena. We have a lot to be grateful for here. Let’s stay positive, be cautious and be prepared!

 

By |2020-04-21T22:47:31+00:00March 29th, 2020|Amazing People, St Helena|37 Comments

37 Comments

  1. Sandra Crowie April 21, 2020 at 11:05 pm - Reply

    Cant keep away from your blog now .Great Work Darrin & Sharon !! Keep safe .God Bless u both xx

  2. David April 20, 2020 at 11:10 am - Reply

    I have no personal connection to the island (although I’d love to visit… one day) but recently I’d been wondering how people on islands who so far have been spared any cases were feeling about this new world we’re all living in, watching it unfold on their TV screens and hearing stories from friends and relatives overseas. I thought “I wonder if the virus has reached St Helena?” First I found the SH government guidance and news about the flight bringing testing kits and medical supplies, but then I ended up here and this is EXACTLY the kind of article I was looking for, even though it’s from a few weeks ago now.

    Thank you for keeping the world informed about how you are doing out there in the Atlantic. I loved the updates from individuals, including the ones not on the island at the moment, and hope they are still doing well. Best wishes to the Saints from locked-down Devon.

    • WTSDN April 20, 2020 at 9:04 pm - Reply

      So glad that you’ve found our blog David and find it informative. Being a small island it’s important to document our history, and this is a huge moment in time – for the world. To date we have no confirmed cases of coronavirus – fingers crossed it stays that way. Perhaps you’d like to download the ‘Inside St Helena’ travel app, avail free on Google Play and App Store for latest island news and information. Stay safe. 🙂

  3. Pat williams April 19, 2020 at 8:50 pm - Reply

    Well done Sharon and Darrin. This is so interesting to read and hear people’s views. Worrying times ahead, but just hope and pray that this virus does not reach here. Life is so uncertain at the moment and more so when you have family abroad and all you do is thank god each day they are safe so far when you hear and see what’s happening around the world.
    Stay safe everyone, continue to be vigilant. Thanks Darrin and Sharon, always great too see your new initiatives thinking about our island and its people. Keep up the good work! 😀

    • WTSDN April 20, 2020 at 8:57 pm - Reply

      Thanks Pat for your kind words, we’re sure those who contributed to the blog will also appreciate them. Yes, agree, worrying times ahead for us all. Fingers crossed we come out on the other side – virus free. 🙂

  4. Billy Leisegang April 12, 2020 at 12:57 pm - Reply

    Great to read the thoughts and feelings from the Island Darrin and Sharon. We are so fortunate here with family all round looking out for us. A little like the Island community down south here in Simon’s Town. Love and best wishes to our Island Family.

    • WTSDN April 12, 2020 at 11:27 pm - Reply

      Hi Billy and Di – so glad to hear you are well and keeping safe. Happy Easter to you all. 🙂

  5. Karel van der Molen April 11, 2020 at 9:58 am - Reply

    Interesting read – great stories! This situation is so different from anything we have ever experienced – and it’s great to read the experiences from other parts of the world. Stay strong and safe – and thanks again for the posting…

    • WTSDN April 11, 2020 at 11:22 am - Reply

      Hi Karel

      Great to hear from you, hope you are keeping your head down and staying safe. 🙂 We’re updating the blog regularly so keep checking in to see what’s the latest.

  6. MarilynEssex April 11, 2020 at 12:26 am - Reply

    Dear Sharon and Darrin, thank you for keeping me updated with Saint yarn and especially now at this worrying time. Bravo to everyone who gave us an insight into their lives at such an anxiety provoking era in our existence. Stay well and safe, I trust all tests when they arrive will come back negative
    Best wishes
    Marilyn

    • WTSDN April 11, 2020 at 11:18 am - Reply

      Hi Marilyn

      Thanks – lovely to have your feedback, which I’m sure is appreciated by everyone who’s shared their story. Same here about the tests, we hope they all come back negative. Take care and stay safe. 🙂

  7. Sandra Crowie April 1, 2020 at 10:22 am - Reply

    So happy i find your page again ! Keep up your brilliant work Darrin And Sharon .Keep Safe !!

    • WTSDN April 11, 2020 at 11:15 am - Reply

      Hi Sandra

      Glad you found us again! Look after yourselves. 🙂

  8. Rick and Sally Stucker March 30, 2020 at 11:30 pm - Reply

    Hi Guys,
    What a great idea to host this diaristic forum for Saint Helena and for those who care from far away. Keep calm and blog on.
    Stay safe.

    • WTSDN April 11, 2020 at 11:12 am - Reply

      Hi Guys!

      Great to hear from you – hope all is well in your neck of the woods. Look after yourselves. 🙂

  9. Daniel March 30, 2020 at 7:05 pm - Reply

    As others have said, keep safe. We’ll be watching and praying for you in St Helena. Your blog will be something to look forward to. You have an advantage over other communities by having seen what can happen if the virus isn’t kept in check soon enough. In the UK we’re becoming accustomed to home isolation except for a daily walk, occasional outings to get food and to go to work if we can’t work at home. Already people are more aware of their neighbours, more patient and more courteous – we’re all in this together. In some ways we’ll miss what we’ve discovered about ourselves when this is all over. One thing is sure, we will get through it and so will you. Take care.

    • WTSDN April 11, 2020 at 11:09 am - Reply

      Hi Daniel – thanks for your comment. We’re updating the blog with new entries throughout, so glad it’s giving you something to look forward to. 🙂 Lovely that even these kinds of situations, brings out the best in human spirit. Hang tight and stay safe.

  10. Ashley Moyce March 30, 2020 at 2:56 pm - Reply

    I sincerely hope, for everyone’s sake, that this virus does not start to spread on the island. Please be vigilant and follow the precautions.
    Don’t hold your breath waiting for direction from SHG, you’ll surely die, use common sense and protect yourselves and each other!
    As for test kits arriving on the island, that is such a long shot, and will not do anything to help the situation apart from confirming the size of the problem.
    The best approach is for EVERYONE to act as if the virus is there already and cooperate NOW to avoid a spread.

    • WTSDN April 11, 2020 at 10:59 am - Reply

      Hi Ashley – totally agree with you 100%.

  11. Rory Lynsky March 30, 2020 at 1:30 am - Reply

    Stay well saints

    • WTSDN April 11, 2020 at 10:56 am - Reply

      Thanks Rory – and the same to you. 🙂

  12. Genevieve Williamson March 29, 2020 at 5:59 pm - Reply

    Praying that as Noleen says, your isolation works to your advantage!

    • WTSDN March 30, 2020 at 5:56 am - Reply

      Hi Genevieve – Thanks, although we fear that might be too late. Take care of yourselves and stay safe.

  13. Martin lovell March 29, 2020 at 2:45 pm - Reply

    You are all in our thoughts and prayers. Take the opportunity to put in place now strategies that will limit any impact that may come from this. The sooner you act the better the outcome. We look forward to visiting at some point the other side of this.

    • WTSDN March 30, 2020 at 5:54 am - Reply

      Hi Martin – agree 100%, some like Noleen and Virginia, have taken it upon themselves. If only we could fast-forward to the other side of this… We’ll look forward to seeing you then. Take care and stay safe.

  14. Julie Thomas March 29, 2020 at 12:52 pm - Reply

    I share the sentiments of both these individuals and would go a far as saying that my comments would be a carbon copy of what Noleen has said.

    I firmly believe that the people of St Helena is praying for our leaders to take the decision on a lock-down especially until the test kits can be procured and are on island for tests to be undertaken to confirm whether Covid-19 is present or not.

    I appreciate that work is being done, but I do feel we have had and still have the opportunity to be a little more proactive. How can we practice social-distancing when creches are still being operated, the swimming pool is still open and pubs, clubs and entertainment is still being provided. Our government needs to be seriously consider financially assisting these businesses whilst they close until test kits are available and reduce staff that are expected to work to key areas only – again until we have the essential test kits, PPE, equipment to confidently say we are doing all we can to safeguard our community.

    Well Done to WTSDN for coming up with this page, as I think the avenues for the community to raise their suggestions and concerns remain very limited. We are still being governed by a Government that wishes to give advice but are slow in taking concerns/suggestions from the community, which could result in certain areas being addressed more timely.

    The only way we can get through this as efficient as possible is to work together, embrace our community and fully appreciate the power of communication!

    • WTSDN March 30, 2020 at 5:50 am - Reply

      Agree – let’s see what developments happen this coming week. Stay safe.

  15. ERIC CONSTANTINE March 29, 2020 at 12:44 pm - Reply

    Good to receive a topical news coverage once again from WTSDN. This is most welcome as many of us are not equipped to use the Inside St Helena App.

    • WTSDN March 30, 2020 at 5:48 am - Reply

      Thanks Eric – we plan to do regular updates to this post. Shame you can’t download the Inside St Helena app for the latest news updates. Take care and stay safe.

  16. Leiby Pinner March 29, 2020 at 10:07 am - Reply

    Thinking of you all – stay safe and keep well . Love and prayers Leiby Pinner xx

    • WTSDN March 30, 2020 at 5:46 am - Reply

      Hi Lieby – Thank you, everyone’s doing their best in these trying times. Take care and stay safe.

  17. Stephen Adamski March 29, 2020 at 9:28 am - Reply

    I live on the South Devon coast and I am self isolating, I’m thinking positively and keeping myself busy gardening and reading, as I live in a very remote area I can walk my Labrador alone and don’t meet a soul.
    I’m fortunate as I plenty of food in the house.
    It’s a worrying time but we’ll pull through, just listen to Government advice and you should be safe.
    God bless you all on your beautiful island.

    • WTSDN March 30, 2020 at 5:44 am - Reply

      Hi Stephen Thank you – lovely part of the country to be self-isolating, especially to be in such good company (we love dogs). 🙂 Take care and stay safe.

  18. Rico Ciricola March 29, 2020 at 7:40 am - Reply

    I hope you eventually will be able to interview that passenger who is in self-isolation. I’m curious if that person was a tourist who had looked forward to a one week stay; and had planned many months ago for this [undoubtedly expensive] trip. It certainly turned out to be a memorable trip for that visitor, but certainly not memorable in the way this visitor had imagined. The details surrounding that passenger/visitor would interest me… and other ‘fans’ of St. Helena, as well. I hope this fellow will get a chance to enjoy the St. Helena experience. How tragic to have made the long trek to this unique island only to be “self-isolated” and then “sent packing” :o(😢

    • WTSDN March 30, 2020 at 5:42 am - Reply

      Hi Rico Yes it would be interesting to get an interview with that passenger to get their perspective. Guessing this type of story is being played out the world over at the moment. 🙁 Take care and stay safe.

  19. Roland Stone March 29, 2020 at 6:50 am - Reply

    Chins up folks, thinking about you,stay positive and don’t lose your sense of humor. Do what the authorities recommend and only essential trips away from the house..keep away from group activities for now…and make a plan on substituting products if you run out…we are all in the same boat on the planet right now…

    • WTSDN March 30, 2020 at 5:35 am - Reply

      Thanks Roland – yes sense of humour needed at a time like this. We see more people now practicing social-distancing and we’re already used to substituting here on the island. 🙂 Take care and stay safe.

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