Rowley: Schools, universities to be closed for one week
From tomorrow, all schools, universities and other places of learning will be closed for a week in light of Trinidad’s first confirmed case of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).
Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley made the announcement during Friday's sitting of the Parliament.
Rowley said: “Given our state of objectives, the Government of Trinidad and Tobago will advise that from tomorrow, all schools and universities and other places of learning will remain closed for one week in the first instance in order to slow the potential spread of any infection that may be with us at the same time.”
He stressed the importance of limiting exposure to public places as a means of stemming the spread of COVID-19.
As a further cautionary measure, the Prime Minister urged businesses to be flexible with workplace arrangements and allow employees to work from home, but cautioned workers against abusing the privilege.
"People should stay at home if genuinely suffering from a respiratory illness. This is not a pass to skylark and evade your responsibility and play smart as an employee.
Promote a workplace culture that supports people staying at home when genuinely sick."
The Prime Minister also issued a word of advice to consumers against panic buying as he said this would only serve to create shortages of materials which should be widely available.
He urged the population to listen carefully to the directives given by the authorities as they continue to update the public with credible information and guidelines for the safety and benefit of all.
He took a jab at those who he said have been spreading fake news related to COVID-19, telling them to stop making mischief and creating unnecessary panic.
Rowley dismissed Opposition criticism as he defended Government’s response to the coronavirus noting it has been proactive every step of the way.
He said this was evident in Trinidad and Tobago being one of the first territories in the world to impose travel restrictions on the entry of non-nationals travelling from China.
Rowley cited protocols like thermal screening, manifest monitoring and contact tracing as some of the measures in place to prevent the arrival of further cases of the virus.
He noted that the authorities continue to monitor the situation as it pertains to other countries.
Government may have to revise the list of countries it has restricted travel to and include Switzerland and Norway, given their declared rates of infections.
He urged citizens to adopt the following practices to help stem the spread of the virus:
1. Do not expose yourself unnecessarily through non-essential mass gathering. Limit your exposure to public places.
2. Only travel if essential or it is an emergency.
3. Practise good personal hygiene habits such as more frequent washing of your hands, avoid touching your faces with unwashed hands, sneeze and cough into tissue and properly dispose of the tissue.
4. Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
5. Be sensible about not exposing frail seniors or people with other health conditions to respiratory illness.