THE Government is not locking down the country with a state of emergency at this time as a treatment to the deadly COVID-19 virus.
It is also not shutting down the inter-island ferry service between Trinidad and Tobago.
These were some of the answers provided by Government ministers yesterday at the Parliament sitting at the Red House, Port of Spain, in response to urgent questions from the Opposition.
There are now 60 COVID-19 positive cases in Trinidad and Tobago.
Opposition MP Ramona Ramdial asked whether the Government intends to implement a nationwide lockdown with full force of the law in light of the increasing number of COVID-19 patients and to prevent further spread.
National Security Minister Stuart Young said the response and all issues related to COVID-19 is a “very fluid” process.
“As we’ve said repeatedly the Government will continue to do what is responsible for Trinidad and Tobago. At this stage it is not on the front burner that we implement any nationwide lockdown but we continue to be guided most importantly by medical expert advice of the Chief Medical Officer and his staff from the Ministry of Health,” he said.
Law a last resort
Ramdial asked whether the minister can give an update with respect to marshalling those citizens who are not following any advisories being sent out by the National Security Ministry.
Young said the number-one frontrunner in handling and responding to COVID-19 is the Health Ministry.
He reminded that the CMO has the power of the Quarantine Act and the ministry has the full support of the National Security Ministry and together an inter-ministerial committee has developed a list of those persons the Health Ministry would like to ensure is quarantined.
He said it comes down to self-discipline.
“This Government is not going to be using the law unnecessarily but we will if we have to... the police are assisting the CMO and the Health Ministry with whatever they need, including patrolling outside certain homes,” he said.
Ramdial asked Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh to advise whether all passengers on CAL flights which transported imported cases have been contacted, screened and quarantined.
Deyalsingh said they are guided by international protocols and under the aircraft general declaration there is a special consideration for managing COVID-19 cases outbreak in aviation.
He said protocol states that you contact trace persons within a one to two-metre radius of any seat where a person sits.
Ramdial asked if there were any plans to shut down the inter-island ferry service in light of news that a foreign passenger was suspected with COVID-19 on board.
In response, Transport Minister Rohan Sinanan said there is no information to suggest that any passenger foreign or local suspected of having the COVID-19 virus was allowed to travel on the ferry service.
The minister advised that the Port Authority has implemented several measures specifically related to the ferry and cargo terminal and vessels operating on the sea bridge, one of which is restrictions to persons exhibiting flu like symptoms to the terminal and vessels.
Other measures, he said, include engaging a sanitisation company to undertake steam cleaning of the vessel before and after sailings.
Ramdial asked whether the Tobago House of Assembly intended to implement testing and quarantining of passengers who enter via the seabridge.
Sinanan said he could not speak for the THA, however, “I can say that screening is done at both terminals in Trinidad and Tobago by the Port Authority.”
He added that Government received 15 thermal scanners and they will be utilised.