Clinton Forrester is traumatised and depressed.
His 13-year-old son, Lenard, a student of Green Island High School in Hanover, is suspected to be the first casualty of the recent outbreak of the Aedes aegypti mosquito-borne disease, dengue, in the parish.
The promising student, who lived with his parents in Salt Spring, Hanover, reportedly fell ill about two weeks ago and died at hospital last week Wednesday after showing signs of dengue-related illness.
“I feel very sad, and the whole community is in sadness, not just my family, the whole community is in sadness and pain,” said a teary-eyed Forrester.
“Some taking it hard, some even take it harder than me, because they knew him from he was a baby growing up. Everybody is crying for headache right now. I feel very hurt, very traumatised and depressed,” added Forrester.
He told the Jamaica Observer Westthat his son fell ill on January 11 and was given Panadol at home. However, the teenager’s symptoms grew worse a day later, and he was taken to a private doctor in Green Island on that day.
He was then taken to Noel Holmes Hospital in the parish with a high fever, and subsequently transferred to Cornwall Regional Hospital in St James where he died while undergoing treatment.
According to Forrester, his son was placed on observation at Noel Holmes Hospital and was moved to Cornwall Regional after one of his legs became unresponsive.
Forrester said upon arrival at Cornwall Regional, it took eight hours for his son to be given a bed. Young Forrester later died on Wednesday, January 16, at 4:09 pm.
Forrester said his son “was roasting with fever” during his stay at Cornwall Regional Hospital, noting that a fan was used to assist in “cooling him down”.
Senior medical officer of health at Cornwall Regional Hospital Dr Derek Harvey has confirmed that the hospital is treating the teenager’s death as a suspected case of dengue for the time being. Test results from blood samples taken from the teenager sent to the National Public Health Laboratory could take between four and six weeks to get back to the hospital, the Observer West was told.
Councillor Marvell Sewell (People’s National Party, Green Island Division) said he is hurt over the child’s death.
“I really feel the pain, because he was an active child. He was even on the chess club at his school and other things. I really feel this one, because when I went there (Salt Spring) everyone there was crying. I also break down to see the situation of a promising youngster,” stated Sewell.
Just over two weeks ago, Health Minister Dr Christopher Tufton and health personnel visited the parish and conducted a site visit of the Black Gate community in Hopewell, as part of his planned visits across the island to encourage support for the eradication of mosquito-breeding sites.
The visit, however, left a number of councillors in the parish upset, as they were of the opinion that Black Gate was not a “high-risk community” for dengue fever.
They believe areas such as Lucea and Green Island, which tend to have a high population of mosquitoes, should have been targeted instead.
Councillor Sewell stressed that the death of young Forrester has strengthened his belief that Green Island should have been given priority attention.
“When the minister was in Hanover he visited Black Gate, which is on a higher elevation… I was so upset, because I think Green Island, as a swampy area, should be given first priority because we have the most morass in the Green Island Division,” Sewell argued.
Earlier this month, senior medical officer of health for Hanover, Dr Kaushal Singh, told the general monthly meeting of the Hanover Municipal Corporation that the parish had recorded some 26 suspected cases of dengue for 2018.
At that time, however, he said there were no confirmed cases.