If the message had not sunk in before, it should do so now. Trinidad and Tobago is in a third wave of Covid-19 infections and poised for trouble unless we pull back now.
Yesterday’s report of three additional deaths and 46 new Covid-19 cases marks a definitive new upsurge. The observation by Chief Medical Officer Dr Roshan Parasram that the current infections appear to be spreading at a more rapid rate is particularly worrying, especially with the increase occurring at the start of the long Easter weekend and during the Easter school vacation. More people are out and about and have committed to holiday plans that they may be loathe to change. We urge them to consider if it’s worth the risk.
This latest wave comes as a surprise given the fact that, unlike other countries currently in the throes of Covid-19, Trinidad and Tobago has taken the extreme step of keeping its borders closed since March 22 last year. After all, the whole point of keeping the borders closed for over a year is to keep out the coronavirus while, presumably, hunting down and eradicating every infection as it rears its head and before it gets the chance to spread. Clearly, something has gone awry. It makes no logical sense to keep borders closed for over a year and still end up with an upsurge in cases.
Given the seriousness of the situation, the mixed messages coming from the Government at this critical period are puzzling. Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh was almost apologetic in announcing the decision to roll back the recent relaxation which allowed the resumption of recreational sports. Then there was Planning Minister Camille Robinson-Regis who re-opened Macqueripe Bay this week with a national invitation, declaring that “people are free to come on Thursday but not on Good Friday because if one visits the beach on Good Friday they will turn into a fish, but on Thursday and Saturday and Sunday the beach will be open”. It was a classic case of left hand not talking to right hand.
Ultimately, the responsibility rests in the hand of each individual to protect themselves even if the national responsibility for the public’s health falls on the Government. As T&T stands on the threshold of new danger at a time when the pandemic-weary public are ready to break free, the Government needed to give a serious signal that it was mashing the brakes. Instead, the response seems quite timid, leaving one to wonder about the advice given to the government by Dr Parasram, who must be a very worried CMO as he enters the Easter long weekend.
The government’s lack of aggression at this stage may have to do with the economic implications of taking more drastic action. This was certainly on the Prime Minister’s mind last Saturday when he all but threatened the country about indulging in risky behaviour, with the warning that the Government has no money to cushion the impact of another shutdown.
As we enter this weekend, let us not test the limits of the Treasury, the public health system or our own immune system. Be safe, people.