T&T Announces Further Measures To Deal With COVID-19 Surge

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PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad (CMC) — The Trinidad and Tobago government Friday announced a further “battering down” of the country as health officials disclosed there would be more bed at hospitals to deal with the alarming increase in cases of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley, flanked by several ministers and medical experts, told a news conference that he is “personally disappointed” at the response of individuals to the earlier measures outlined by the government to deal with the virus that has so far killed 191 people and infected 12,396 since the first case was recorded in March last year.

On Friday the authorities reported five additional deaths and 324 new cases of the virus, bringing the total number of active cases to 3,480.

He told reporters that the time has come for further closures and continued enforcement of Public Health Regulations.

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Rowley said only absolutely essential movement will be allowed.

“The fundamentals of our response as a country remains that we want to reduce the amount of people by directing the other people and we want to restrict the amount of people on the move in the country.

“So except for the absolute essentials of requirements to get food and water and electricity and pharmaceuticals and so and to keep the kind of livelihood to pay some of those bills, the rest of this country is to batten down for the next two weeks,” Rowley told reporters, saying that the new measures, which include a halt to all construction work, would take effect from midnight.

Prime Minister Rowley also hinted at further restrictions if after May 23, there is not a significant decline in the number of COVID-19 infections.

“Let me ask you, if the behaviour continues, the disregard continues, the don’t give a damn continues, God is a Trini continues, not me but he, if that continues, what decision do you expect me to make on the 23rd of May? I throw that out for your consideration,” he told reporters.

“We are asking everyone to stay at home, work from home,” Rowley said as the government announced the suite of new measures.

Minister in the Office of the Prime Minister, Stuart Young, announced the various restrictions during the two-hour news conference.

He said individuals should not be in the workplace unless they are part of essential services, and even in those services, work from home is encouraged where possible.

“All establishments that have been allowed to stay open at this time are to close at 8:00 pm (local time) and operate at 50 per cent. Public transport to decrease from 75 per cent capacity to 50 per cent and unless they are designated as ‘live in’, domestic services are to be suspended.”

In addition, the government said that retail stores will be allowed to only sell food, medicine and other essentials of life and that all construction work is to cease.

“Only emergency services allowed for auto repair businesses. Only emergency services will be allowed for dentistry, ophthalmology etc,” Young said reminding the public that restaurants are closed and curbside pickup and delivery services are not allowed.

Prime Minister Rowley expressed disappointment over the number of people and organisations that sought exemptions when the measures were first announced earlier this month to curb the spread of the virus.

“There is only one way to tell you that this is so. If I tell you anything else that is either going to be inappropriate, incorrect, untrue, irrelevant. We have been trying to share all the shareable information that we had. As a matter of fact, what we have been living with, is ever time we take a suite of decisions saying that this package of decisions, if followed will cause us to be in a certain kind of position, a large number of people decide their reaction is to seek exemptions from that, either to be left out officially or illegally.”

Rowley said while he expects the police to carry out their functions under the law, he also wanted to remind the population that “it is impossible to assign a police officer to every citizen”.

“I am saying to the country we have not yet lost control of our virus spike, but if we do not tighten the grip on what we know has to be done we will lose the grip on managing the level of infection in the country. We are not prepared to allow that to happen,” Rowley said.

Meanwhile, Principal Medical Officer in the Ministry of Health, Dr Maryam Abdool

Richards, said that additional beds were now being provided at hospitals as a result of the upsurge, noting that 70 per cent of the 542 beds are occupied at present.

She said that as of Friday, the daily average of COVID-19 cases is now 271 and that the current trend shows that 18 per cent of COVID-19 patients need hospitalisation.

Dr Richards announced that in the next 48 hours work will be done to increase capacity in the parallel healthcare system by 60 beds across several sites and that between March 1 and May 5, the number of people that require ambulance care for COVID-19 increased by 47 per cent.

Headline photo: Prime Minister Keith Rowley

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Editorial Staff
Editorial Staff
Our Editorial Staff at St. Lucia Times is a team publishing news and other articles to over 200,000 regular monthly readers in Saint Lucia and in over 150 other countries worldwide.

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