Jamaican Man In Italy Sends COVID-19 Warning, Says Virus Is Not Something To Play With

(JAMAICA STAR) – Shay Townsend, 35, has been living in Italy for six years. Life took an unexpected turn for him after he contracted the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) earlier this month.

“I have been though really rough times with the flu previously in my life, but this virus takes the cake,” he told THE STAR.

Townsend has been in isolation since Monday, March 16. It’s the most excruciating experience he has faced. “Today (Tuesday) marks eight days I have been in isolation, suffering alone with this virus. At times, I felt like if I went to sleep, I would die in my sleep, so I stayed up fighting to breath and controlling my temperature. My experience so far is rough, but I am focusing on reuniting with my wife and son, so I know I will be okay soon.”

As of Tuesday, Italy has reported almost 70,000 COVID-19 cases. There have been almost 7,000 fatalities, almost doubling the number of deaths in China. Yesterday alone, Italy recorded 743 deaths. It was its second-deadliest day so far. On Saturday, March 31, a staggering 793 deaths were recorded.

Townsend, who hails from Mandeville, Manchester, had just received a job in Florence, Italy, when the outbreak began in the country. Two of his co-workers also tested positive; one of whom died on Saturday morning. Townsend, who has no underlined medical issues, admits that he didn’t take the virus seriously.

“I was busy assisting guests and helping to prepare our hostels for closing. I was one of the people who never listened or took this virus serious. We had a couple who lost their luggage, so I helped with a free room and transportation to the airport when they were leaving. The husband shook my hand, the wife hugged me and that’s when I contracted the virus,” he recalled.


His recovery journey has been one of unimaginable anguish and discomfort. “The first three days were hard because I was having an extremely painful time breathing. Also, when the temperature got high, you feel as if the muscles want to pop out of your skin. You feel the blood thickening in the veins, and your mind starts letting you think you will die. It’s a battle, and I have fought it this far.”

He says his doctor had to adjust the medication he was being given to help alleviate the pain.

“My doctor took me off ibuprofen because it increases the symptoms. I also try to ingest 1,000mg of vitamin C each day, drink ginger, lime, garlic and honey three times a day. At nights, I use my aerosol once every four hours to help me to breath. I have now gotten my temperature and breathing under control. I am getting my strength back,” he said.

Having first-hand experience, he is urging Jamaicans to heed what the local health ministry has been saying.

“For once, I wish Jamaicans would unite and fight this virus together. Follow the rules and stay home. Stock up on all you need at home. This virus is not something to play with and the more we ignore the prevention, [the more] this virus will spread and become even stronger. So please take precautions. Stay safe, Jamaica.”