corona

Trinidad and Tobago’s Covid-19 count continues to rise, as four additional cases were confirmed yesterday.

This takes the number of confirmed cases to 173.

The Ministry of Health gave the information in its morning update. None of the new cases has been classified as imported or a contact of a recently confirmed case.

The ministry is conducting epidemio­logical investigations to determine how and where the new cases contracted the virus.

The four new patients have been taken to the Caura Hospital. This is the latest in a spike of Covid-19 cases seen over the past two weeks, after more than 80 days without any local cases being detected.

As new cases continue to be detected, another school has been ordered to close, as the parent of a pupil attending Secondary Entrance Assessment (SEA) classes has been confirmed to have the virus.

The ASJA Boys’ Primary School in Charlieville is the fifth school to be closed since schools reopened for SEA pupils on July 20.

The Maraval RC School, the Tacarigua Presbyterian School, the St Augustine Government Primary School and the Arima West Government Primary School were temporarily closed due to exposure to Covid-19.

The spike in cases has prompted Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley to announce tighter restrictions on gatherings in public places.

On Friday he said gatherings will now be restricted to ten, down from 25, and public servants will be asked to report to work on rotation or by alphabetical order.

He said the SEA examination is now on “watch” and a decision will be made in the coming days as to whether the exam will go off as planned on August 20. Rowley, however, said despite the upsurge in “local” cases, the August 10 general election will not be postponed.

The Ministry of Health said yesterday that there are now 27 Covid-19 patients at Caura and two at the Couva hospital. No one has been admitted to step-down facilities. According to the ministry’s daily clini­cal update, the number of samples submitted to the Caribbean Public Health Agency (Carpha) and the UWI site for testing now stands at 8,150.

One hundred and thirty-two patients have been discharged to date and deaths remain at eight.

The Airports Authority of Trinidad and Tobago announced yesterday it has implemented health and safety protocols at the Piarco and ANR Robinson International airports to protect travellers, employees, stakeholders and airport users from the spread of Covid-19.

When arriving at the airports, people will see some additional measures as follows:

. Face masks are required for entry into terminals and must be worn at all points throughout the terminal buildings;

. Temperature screening takes place at entrances and before security checkpoints;

. Increased hand sanitisation stations are available;

. Physical distancing must be observed at all times;

. Passengers are advised of the following installations at the check-in area:

. Sneeze guards at the check-in counters;

. Increased number of hand sanitisation stations;

. Physical distancing markers to guide responsible queuing;

. Regular sanitisation of all surfaces;

• No gathering of standby passengers.

The authority said at security checkpoints:

• Masks must remain on;

• Temperature screening will be conducted before the checkpoints;

• Physical distancing is required in queues;

• Passport bio-pages and departing flight details must be on hand;

• Security screening trays are sanitised frequently.

Instructions of security officers and signage must be observed to allow for faster processing.

The authority said while at the departure lounges:

. Face masks should be worn;

. Social distancing must be practised at seating areas;

. Increased sanitisation stations are available;

. Seats and other frequently used surfaces are regularly sanitised;

. Passport bio-pages and departing flight details should be ready for presentation to the agent at the gate;

. Physical distancing should be observed when queuing at gates.

. Throughout the airports, there are increased hand sanitisation stations, the observance of distance seating, enhanced cleaning protocols and the routine disinfection of security trays and general surfaces, it added.

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Taxpayers now have to foot close to $10 million in damages to 20 former employees of the Security Intelligence Agency (SIA) who were dismissed by the Kamla Persad-­Bissessar regime.

The Industrial Court, in a ru­ling handed down on Wednesday, minced no words, with the panel describing the dismissals as “patently egregious” while, at the same time, slamming the Ministry of National Security under the former administration for not tendering a defence despite being ordered by the courts to do so.

Fifteen more people tested positive for the Covid-19 virus yesterday and are now in hospital. The Ministry of Health’s Covid-19 updates yesterday indicated that it was still unknown how 12 of the newest cases contracted the virus, as epidemiological investigations were being done. Three of the patients contracted the virus from recently positive Covid-19 patients, the Ministry noted.

Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley is demanding that the Opposition United National Congress (UNC) remove an advertisement which, he said, likened black people to monkeys.

The Prime Minister was referring to a “Trinity’s Triangle” ad, in which an Afro-Trinidadian woman begs for food.

Opposition Leader Kamla Per­sad-­Bissessar has promised no one would lose their job because of race.

And she is urging the population to remain united and assured that if elected, her Government would not discriminate against anyone based on race or gender.

“As we hit the final few days, there are many who would seek to plant the seeds of fear and stir up ethnic doubts in your hearts. To me, the biggest challenge is to ignore those who do not believe in our resplendent possibilities as a people and our common destiny as a nation,” she said at a United National Congress (UNC) virtual meeting on Thursday.

United National Congress (UNC) St Ann’s East candidate Kenya Charles has called on Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi to explain his wealth and why his family has a number of buildings throughout the country rented to the Government.