Trinidad PM warns country in ‘critical crisis’ as COVID cases soarThursday, November 25, 2021
PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad (CMC)— Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley has urged Trinidad and Tobago citizens to “avoid a funeral for Christmas” as the country recorded increased cases of the coronavirus (COVID-19) including a record 31 deaths on Thursday.
The latest figures released by the Ministry of Health showed that 2,040 people have died and 68,288 others have been infected with the virus since March last year.
Rowley said that “now is not the time to concede defeat and appealed to people to get vaccinated against the virus, particularly since it has now emerged of a new variant of the pandemic that experts have described s B.1.1.529, as “the worst one we’ve seen so far”, and amid concerns it has the potential to evade immunity.
“We must not lower our guard, but instead commit to fight the scourge with everything at our disposal, not the least of which are the vaccines we have and the personal responsibility we must adopt,” Rowley said.
“The virus has pushed back and today we must stand and hold the line. Our frontline soldiers buckled under the strain of 19 months of constant battle, our resources are being steadily depleted as people continue to fall ill, require increased hospitalization and lose their lives to the relenting onslaught of the virus,” he said.
“I want to re-emphasize that we intend to continue fighting this virus, while fighting to preserve our key economic activities which we need to maintain livelihoods. We will try to prevent to prevent devastating restrictions and will resort to such measures only as a last resort when all else become impotent.
“Diligent and pre-empt steps have been taken to ensure that WHO [World Health Organization] approved vaccines are available for the population,” he said, noting that Trinidad and Tobago has received in excess of 1.9 million vaccines of which 1.28 million have been administered.
But he said that the figures were still low and according to the ministry, 639, 486 people have been fully vaccinated to date and 16, 684 have received an additional third boost.
Rowley, who chronicled the efforts made by his administration since the WHO had first announced the discovery of the virus and later declaring it a pandemic more than a year ago, said that evidence has shown that vaccines continue to reduce a person’s risk of infection, hospitalization and even death.
“The government of Trinidad and Tobago has taken every available measure to ensure that we safeguard our population from the virus. Significant expenditure was incurred to implement all the listed polices (and) as of September 2021, we spent TT$509.7 million on the national COVID-19 response,” Rowley said, adding that disappointingly the pandemic “continues to present serious challenges that most countries all over the world are struggle with even with the assistance of widespread vaccination”.
Rowley said that recent figures here show that Trinidad and Tobago is facing a “critical crisis’ regarding the pandemic “and with no decrease in sight, the number of deaths has continued to increase with dozens of persons losing their lives on a daily basis.
“Unfortunately it seems we have become de-sensitized and the population is no longer stirred to wise action by this alarming trend. There is little change in public behaviour and attitude as well as a drastic reduction in the rate of vaccination even in the face of increasing COVID-19 deaths.
“There is also a lot of information that many persons hid their conditions, refuse to be tested or isolate when they know they are sick,” he said, adding “this is exactly the environment in which the virus will thrive and show up in our intractable daily numbers and our overflowing hospital wards.
“I tonight appeal to families to support one another and help out so that infected members can isolate to reduce the chances of the virus spreading among family members and the general public. Quarantine works, vaccines work, mask wearing and sanitizing work, adopt them to save a life”.
Rowley said that country enters the Christmas Season he was appealing for people to adopt the health regulations and while the government would have wanted to re-open beaches as soon as possible, it would continue to monitor the situation “for the next couple of weeks” still hoping to have limited beach access before Christmas.
“Very soon, the Christmas Season and its festivities will be upon us. We will want to have a good Christmas but we must be particularly careful to not let that Christmas be the event that pushes us over the edge,” Rowley said, urging that all health requirements be adopted and celebrations take place within safe zones.
“Aim to celebrate in safe zones. What I am saying is get your family protected by vaccination. Protect your elderly and comorbid members from you. Try and avoid a funeral for Christmas,” he said.
Rowley also announced that while the annual carnival celebrations will not be as they have been in the past, including street parades, some element of the festival will be on show in 2022.