Saturday 28 March, 2020

MP: Citizens to be wary of novel coronavirus after Carnival

Former Education Minister and medical doctor Tim Gopeesingh is calling on citizens to pressure the Government to take action to prevent, treat and inform the nation on the status of the COVID-19 in Trinidad and Tobago.

He issued the statement on Carnival Tuesday amid reports that a Tobago resident returned from China last Friday with flu-like symptoms. The unidentified patient has been quarantined at the Scarborough General Hospital with blood samples taken to determine if they contracted the novel coronavirus.

“Sadly, this is a woefully inadequate response to this very serious new virus, which has, in the past month, developed into virtually a global pandemic after having originated in China,” Gopeesingh said.

Earlier this week, the World Health Organisation has warned that although a public health emergency of international concern, the novel coronavirus is not yet a pandemic but can likely be declared one. 

Meanwhile, Gopeesigh said the Health Division of the Tobago House Assembly should have identified all passengers aboard the vessel that the affected national returned on and subject them to quarantine and testing to ensure that they have not been infected.

“This abundance of caution is more than warranted, given the alarmingly rapid spread of this deadly novel virus globally in the past six weeks, where, according to the latest global reports, outbreaks of COVID-19 outside mainland China are worsening daily,” the former Minister explained.

The Opposition MP also referenced an unverified website called Worldometer which said 40 countries and territories around the world have reported a total of 80,377 confirmed cases of the coronavirus that originated from Wuhan, China and a death toll of 2,707.

Gopeesingh went on to scold the Keith Rowley-led administration for what he considers an unsatisfactory response to the illness.

“Sadly, while Governments across the globe are taking very serious measures to counteract this deadly new virus and protect their citizens from its devastating and potentially fatal effects, the ruling PNM Government has effectively turned a blind eye to it, as evidenced by their ongoing deafening silence on the state of the COVID-19 amid a population subjected to daily reports of its terrifying spread,” he said.

He further claimed that empty assurances by the Minister of Health, South West Regional Health Authority and THA’s Health Division have failed to reassure citizens of their safety amid social media claims of confirmed coronavirus cases locally. 

“As citizens enjoy the 2020 Carnival festivities, they face a tragic, frightening and potentially deadly reality on Ash Wednesday and beyond, as our country now faces the real threat of the COVID-19 virus having already entered our shores, and, due to the Government’s indifference, could now spread rapidly and uncontained,” he stated.

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