Wednesday 2 December, 2020

How a mother protects her daughter when social distancing is difficult

Photo combination showing  Nicole O'Haro and her mother,  Hyacinth Hyatt.

Photo combination showing Nicole O'Haro and her mother, Hyacinth Hyatt.

By Lynford Simpson

With the absence of a vaccine or an effective therapeutic remedy for COVID-19, the World Health Organisation has recommended social or physical distancing as a means of stemming the spread of the novel coronavirus.

In public, it is recommended that people stay a minimum of six feet apart from each other, especially if they are not from the same household. But, even in the privacy of your own home you may be required to practice some amount of physical or social distancing. This is especially so if a member of the household is particularly susceptible to contracting COVID-19 if they are older than 65, or have an underlying condition.

While children are usually told to keep their distance from their vulnerable parents, Loop News, as part of its Mother’s Day special, took a look at a mother and daughter duo who have been taking steps to protect each other from the virus. In this case, it is the mother, Hyacinth Hyatt, who is going out of her way to protect her daughter, Nicole O’Haro, a breast cancer survivor who was featured by our news team during Breast Cancer Awareness Month last October.

O’Haro, who celebrates four years of being cancer free in 2020, and who lives with her mother and son in the Kingston 11 area, spoke on behalf of her mom while recounting how she has been coping since the respiratory virus was first detected in Jamaica on March 10. Presently, O’Haro does not take any medication but does regular check-ups to ensure that she is in the clear. She does her best to ensure that she stays safe as the world battles the fast-spreading pandemic, and her mother does her best to protect her.

“I try to avoid crowded areas including the bus so I mostly stay at home. However, my mother, who is self-employed, must leave the house each day.

O'Haro celebrates four years of being cancer free in 2020.

“We are also aware that not everybody can stay six feet apart from each other. That is our reality, the reality for many in my community, and I do believe that this is the case for a significant number of Jamaicans,” said O’Haro.

She credits her very aware mother with “doing other things” to make the household as safe as possible.

“When she comes home in the evenings, she makes sure to leave her shoes outside. She then wipes down or sprays anything she takes home for the house and heads straight to the shower... We also clean and wipe surfaces more often these days,” O’Haro shared.

She admitted that being able to put some distance between each other, especially in circumstances where someone in a household has contracted or suspected to have contracted the coronavirus, is ideal.

But, she said: “The reality is that the circumstances of many Jamaicans in terms of their living arrangements will make it next to impossible to practice social distancing in the way it was intended. That does not mean that people can’t take other steps to protect themselves and their loved ones. We must all look out for each other, we must all work together”.

Hyatt... does her best to protect her cancer survivor daughter, Nicole.

Meanwhile, O’Haro, who is pursuing studies at the International University of the Caribbean, told Loop News that she finds it both frustrating and fun-filled at times as she tries to keep up with her studies online while she assists her 13-year-old son who attends a Corporate Area high school with his own studies.

Schools, teachers’ colleges and universities have been shuttered since March 13 as the Government took steps to limit the spread of the coronavirus and the breast cancer survivor admits that she misses the face-to-face interactions with her fellow students and lecturers in the classroom setting. She also complained that some lecturers dump a lot of work on them at one time and this can be challenging while she tries to divide her time between her studies and ensuring that her son gets his work done in the allotted time.

O’Haro said that while it can be difficult trying to fill the role of teacher, “The fun part is when you teach the lesson in your own way and realize that he is grasping it."

She said she is cognizant of the fact that with the usually high number of students per teacher in the public school setting, it is not all the time that a child may grasp the lesson as it is being taught. At home, she is more patient and has more time. She also has a greater appreciation for teachers these days. 

Is she looking forward to the resumption of classes?

"The truth is that, like most parents, I can’t wait for him to go back to school. Him give too much talking,” she said while laughing.

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