The sight of Trinidad’s landscape from the skies ignited smiles and relief for some 70 nationals who returned home yesterday after being stranded in Suriname for weeks.

They are all to be tested for the deadly COVID-19 virus today at The UWI Debe campus where they will be quarantined for 14 days.

Rishi Ramkissoon, co-ordinator of the group’s return, said yesterday the feeling of being back home was indescribable given the anxiety they faced while in Suriname.

“There was a real joy in coming in. I myself was looking out to just spot Trinidad and I see everyone was doing it as well. We were just very keen to touch down after all the uncertainty for weeks as to when we will get home and see our families,” he said.

“There was joy and relief. I never felt as happy to touch down in Trinidad as I did this time. Even in the Suriname airport this morning everyone looked like a weight was removed from their shoulders in finally being able to come home,” he added.

He said the group received permission to enter the country from National Security Minister Stuart Young after 8 p.m. on Thursday.

He said by 7.30 a.m. on Friday they were all at the airport in Suriname eager to return home.

Ramkissoon said when the group arrived at Piarco International Airport after 10 a.m. there were three PTSC buses and police waiting on the tarmac for them.

He said the bus drivers were equipped with full personal protection equipment (PPE) and the entourage took them directly to The UWI Debe campus where there was a smooth admission process.

“Everything at Debe was well organised,” he said. Eight people at a time were allowed to disembark and the rooms were already pre-assigned and ready,” he said.

Ramkissoon said the Defence Force collected their luggage and it was sanitised before they were allowed to take it to their rooms. He said a lunch of rice, peas and fish was ready for them.

“The rooms are comfortable. They have taken care to ensure it have things that are necessary — water, tea and coffee. I think they made a big effort to ensure everyone can manage for the 14 days. There is nothing to complain about based on the short time we have been here so far,” he said.

He expressed gratitude to the Health Ministry for the preparations made. Ramkissoon also extended special thanks to Suriname Airways and their agent, Jerome Khan, for stepping in and bringing them home.

This is the second group to return to Trinidad since this country’s borders were closed at midnight on March 22.

On April 21, a group of 33 nationals were allowed to return from Barbados and are currently quarantined.

RECOMMENDED FOR YOU

Trinidad and Tobago has been spared the most “vulgar” displays of systemic racism. But we are not immune.

This is the view of Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley.

Asked about the developments taking place in the US, which have led to anti-racism demonstrations all over the world as countries grapple with insidious and systemic racism and which in Trinidad and Tobago has played out in strong reaction to racist and insensitive statements by some nationals, the Prime Minister said: “The fear that we have today is that there seems to be a new normal that is developing where the higher values that we thought we were ascribing to and the gains that we were making could be so easily lost.

AS Trinidad and Tobago’s Covid-19 situation stays under control, more restrictions are being lifted, allowing more categories of workers to get back to their jobs.

An estimated 600 to 1,000 nationals are expected to return to the country this week.

National Security Minister Stuart Young made this announcement yesterday while speaking at a news conference at the Diplomatic Centre, St Ann’s.

THREE double murders in less than 24 hours have taken the country’s murder toll for the year so far on the verge of the 200 mark.

The latest killings took place yesterday afternoon in Almond Drive, Morvant, where three people were shot.