July 2021, my phone alarm goes off, it’s 10 a.m.—a reminder of 2020, a year that seems hazy in memory, but yet still alive and painful; 10 a.m. applause would ring out for days for doctors and nurses risking health and life for others, on the frontlines battling the new face of terror—a new disease which we were yet to understand: the novel coronavirus.

Deaths still occur, but the fear has dissipated.

We now know how to fight this disease—the three Ws we hear at each news conference hosted by the Ministry of Health: wear your mask, wash your hands and watch your distance.

There is hope. Vaccines flood the country as borders re-open, as life seems to resume.

Where has the applause gone?

The doctors and nurses who continue to keep us safe helped us battle this disease at its height in 2020, and are once again being asked to go beyond duty to volunteer and vaccine.

Where has the applause gone?

A wise man said, “Do not confuse someone’s free time with their availability,” and this is also true of our health professionals.

Doctors and nurses who work in the public hospitals and health centres, many with no private practice, are asked to give up their free time—time with their families, time to focus on their studies, time with their pets, time with their own solitude for mental health; in public-private partnerships, they are asked to volunteer and vaccinate.

Where has the applause gone?

Doctors who are on three-month contracts for three years—no right to sick leave and no right to gratuity, and are asked to volunteer and vaccinate.

Where has the applause gone?

Health professionals who receive no medical insurance from their employers if they themselves get ill in the line of duty are asked to volunteer and vaccinate.

Where has the applause gone?

The minister of health pays lip service to health professionals at differing times in news conferences. Yet no systems are in place to support medical professionals who are, no doubt, tired—tired of a broken public system which must now look to the private sector to do the Government’s mandate of vaccinating the citizens of a country.

So, yes, tired medical professionals, you are asked to volunteer and vaccinate.

Will the cheers and ovation ever return?

I turn off my 10 a.m. alarm permanently, as the silence of applause is a sad reminder of the faceless health professional who is asked to be omnipresent—still without applause.

Ray Bernard



The revered wheels of justice have been demonstrated once again, in the society that is Trinidad and Tobago, to have ground mercilessly too slowly in the just-ended Sean Luke murder trial.

Headaches these days have been unusually oppressive. I hadn’t realised quite how snugly I fit into the “sensitive groups” affected by the Saharan dust. Eyes gritty, ears heavy, nose sneezy, skin itchy; the antihistamine lends relief, but with a blanket of drowsiness.

IN 1964, we were two years old as a country. I was a 17-year-old boy, in Form Five at Southern Polytechnic, downstairs of a house on Roy Joseph Street, San Fernando, scratching my way, Winston Dookeran, young version, being one of my teachers.

The move to expand the Tobago House of Assembly (THA) makes sense to a minority that wants to assert Tobago autonomy; whereas Tobago as an island, within the unitary state, essentially and practically does not really have any need of it.

NBC Sports pundit Ato Boldon has objectively argued that T&T will not earn a medal in this year’s Tokyo Olympics, based on our athletes not being highly-ranked in their various events. Nevertheless, T&T has a strong chance of medalling if a few of our athletes rise to the occasion, and are well supported by the public and social media.