My fellow Trinbagonians. The five people in Trinidad and Tobago who were diagnosed with COVID-19 are people who travelled recently! As recently as after Carnival. If you read the press releases by our Ministry of Health, you would see the word, “imported” in brackets.

This also seeks to corroborate the fact that none of them contracted the virus from anyone locally. There is no point in assuming that there are people here in Trinidad and/or Tobago who may have been infected from persons visiting our country at Carnival time. The data, up to this time—6:27 pm on Tuesday March 17—do not support that inference.

It is irresponsible and mischievous to make such pronouncements and baseless assertions!

“But Kofi, the Government tellin’ we it only have five COVID-19 cases. It have to be more than that! You expect me to believe them?”

I’m not an analyst but let’s look at some numbers. Consider this.

Turkey is a transcontinental country that straddles two continents: Europe and Asia. How many people pass through there all the time? In 2017, the airports saw 193 million people while the Bosphorus Bridge that crosses the Bosphorus Strait connecting Europe to Asia, sees 180,000 vehicles daily. What we can take away from all this is it is bustling with movement as a major transshipment point; much like T&T is a strategic transshipment point here in the Caribbean. The only difference is, their population is more than 80 million people. That more than 60 times ours! Turkey’s confirmed COVID-19 count is 47!

Look at the COVID-19 numbers in Europe and Asia. To the east Turkey shares a border with Iran which has 16,169 confirmed cases with 988 deaths. Turkey also shares a border with Iraq which has a COVID-19 count of 154. Syria shares a border with Iraq and yet their count is just one. Turkey also shares its border with Georgia and Armenia. The COVID-19 count for those countries is 34 and 78 respectively. If we look at the European side, Turkey shares a border with Greece and Bulgaria. Greece has 387 confirmed COVID-19 infections with five deaths while Bulgaria has 81 with two deaths.

Turkey had their first case last week and by Friday, they grew into double digits to 18. Today, the number almost tripled, reaching 47.

The Turks’ precautions are similar to ours. Just yesterday, they also temporarily closed bars and nightclubs.

The question is, “How is Turkey’s number so low?” They took precautions earlier than most countries and based on the timeline, the precautions our country has been encouraged to follow, we have implemented some of them before the Turks took theirs. So if they, surrounded by neighbours who have numbers in the hundreds and tens of thousands and deaths also in the thousands, can keep their numbers in the tens, it is more than possible that Trinidad and Tobago, which has a population less than 60 times their amount, can have only five confirmed cases.

We started with our first confirmed case last week Thursday. Now, we are mere hours away in which a week would have passed and yet, our number, as of the time of this writing, is only five. Still single digits. I don’t know about you all but five confirmed COVID-19 cases (all imported, with the patients improving) seems like a very good number to me.

Based on some online publications, the Turkish people are glad that their numbers are low. Nobody there is assailing their government, undermining their efforts to comfort the public, root out panic and maintain calm, with inaccurate, speculative supposition and rumours. They respect their elderly and have a general disposition toward cleanliness.

I only hope, that in a nation where people are wont to dump garbage all over the place and litter on a whim, we can be clean in heeding a simple act that can contribute to the arrest of the contamination of the coronavirus and its COVID-19 disease: wash your hands properly with soap and water and avoid touching your faces.

Editor’s Note:

Since this letter was written and submitted, the number of COVID-19 cases diagnosed in Trinidad and Tobago has risen to seven.

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