After more than two months of relative calm and confidence that Trinidad and Tobago had escaped the worst of the Covid-19 pandemic, worry heightened again yesterday.
This as several businesses and organisations were forced to close their doors after having been confirmed as contact points of Covid-19-positive people.
This comes as the country recorded six new cases of the virus by yesterday afternoon, taking the total number of confirmed cases to 154.
The Ministry of Health, in its 6 p.m. update, said the latest case was a primary contact of a recently positive Covid-19 patient.
The ministry said earlier that three of the new cases were people who returned from Antigua, Guyana and Vietnam while one is the primary contact of a recently confirmed case.
The other is pending epidemiological investigation.
Additionally, the ministry has been conducting contact-tracing exercises for several recent cases.
A number of buildings were identified as places where recently diagnosed Covid-positive patients had visited.
Among them was the Trinidad and Tobago Electricity Commission’s (T&TEC) Marabella service centre, Legal Aid Clinic of the Hugh Wooding Law School, Police Administration Building and Riverside Plaza, which houses the Homicide Bureau in Port of Spain.
Closed for sanitisation
T&TEC acting corporate communications manager Clare Cooper-Vincent confirmed the Marabella service centre was identified as having been visited by a recently confirmed case.
She said a decision was taken to immediately close the facility for sanitisation.
“The medical personnel did not instruct the closure of the service centre. However, out of an abundance of caution and commitment to our employees and customers, ensuring that proper health and safety measures are adhered to, the commission took a decision to close the service centre to perform the necessary sanitisation prior to reopening (today),” Cooper-Vincent said in a statement.
She said T&TEC is continuing to adhere to protocols outlined by the Ministry of Health to limit the spread of the virus among staff and members of the public.
“This includes the installation of physical barriers, handwash sinks and sanitising liquid dispensers, the use of infrared thermometers to screen all persons (employees and the public) entering buildings and the distribution of masks and related PPE to all staff for use on the job.”
The Legal Aid Clinic of the Hugh Wooding Law School also shut its doors after reports that a contact of a recently confirmed case visited the clinic.
In a memo sent to the school’s staff, human resource manager Lisa Ramjattan said the decision to close was merely a precaution.
“From unconfirmed reports, it was brought to our attention that a client who alleged that he was a secondary contact visited the clinic last Wednesday. Out of an abundance of caution, the decision was made to close the clinic for one day and have it thoroughly sanitised,” she said.
Ramjattan said the school will continue to be vigilant in monitoring the spread of Covid-19 in this country and implement the necessary protocols.
These incidents come on the heels of the temporary closure of several San Juan and Port of Spain businesses and the ATM (automated teller machine) of a bank that were said to have been visited by patients 139 and 141.
Last week, Pennywise branches on Charlotte Street, Port of Spain, and Long Circular Mall, St James, as well as a First Citizens ATM in San Juan, were closed for sanitisation after contact tracing was done for patient 139.
A child of a Republic Bank employee was identified as case 141, resulting in the bank’s West Mall branch being closed for sanitisation.
Additionally, two schools have been closed one week after reopening for Secondary Entrance Assessment (SEA) pupils.
A pupil at Maraval Roman Catholic Primary School tested positive for the virus, resulting in the entire SEA class and staff at the school being ordered into home quarantine.
Tacarigua Presbyterian Primary School was also forced to close after the father of an 11-year-old pupil who had been attending SEA classes tested positive for the virus.
The Tunapuna/Piarco Regional Corporation, where the man was said to be employed, was also shut for sanitisation while the corporation’s employees have been sent for testing.
Contact tracing is ongoing for all the non-imported cases.
‘Make mask wearing
The Trinidad and Tobago Chamber of Commerce—the country’s biggest business group—expressed concern over the uptick in Covid-19 cases in recent days and called for mask wearing to be made mandatory.
“The re-emergence, especially as a number of cases are of unknown origin, must be of major concern to every citizen,” the chamber said in a release. “Given our land space and the size of our population, there is an increased need to control the spread of the virus in the best interest of citizens and for our long-term economic well-being.
“It is our view that we all have the responsibility of curtailing the spread. We further believe that the wearing of masks in all public spaces should be made mandatory. Given that we are faced with a public health emergency, if this policy can be made law by an order, with a penalty of non-compliance, the chamber supports its immediate implementation.”
The chamber noted several countries have made mask wearing compulsory, and it has been successful in reducing the spread of the virus.
The chamber further urged businesses to keep a detailed log of people entering and leaving their buildings, inclusive of names, addresses and contact information, should there be a need for contact tracing.