Minister of Health Terrence Deyalsingh

Three people arrived in T&T before the coronavirus travel restriction was implemented. Two students from Hong Kong and the T&T student who returned from Shanghai have so far not shown any symptoms of the disease.

Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh gave this information during yesterday’s Senate sitting. He said Immigration provided the information on the three arrivals.

Deyalsingh was responding to questions from Independent Senator Hazel Thompson-Ahye. Noting cases of the virus in Hong Kong, she had asked whether the ministry is imposing a quarantine on students who have been returning to the country, including from Hong Kong.

Last week, Government announced a 14-day travel restriction on anyone, regardless of nationality, coming to T&T from China. The virus, which has claimed almost 500 lives, broke out in China. Persons arriving from China have to wait four days after leaving that country to enter T&T.

Deyalsingh said the World Health Organisation (WHO) has reported 15 coronavirus cases in Hong Kong but no cases have been transmitted to T&T.

He added: “Last Friday in Parliament I had said in the event a person presents at a port of entry in Trinidad and Tobago, they may be subject to quarantine measures. So yes, anybody coming into Trinidad and Tobago, whether a Trinidad and Tobago student, anybody, after we announced the travel restriction last week, anybody will be subject to quarantine.

“The information I have from the Immigration Department is that three students came in—two students two weeks ago and one student came in last week—before measures were implemented. My information is, so far none of these students are symptomatic but anyone coming into Trinidad and Tobago after the travel restriction will be subject to quarantine and/or isolation.”

Deyalsingh later confirmed to Guardian Media that the students who arrived two weeks ago came from Hong Kong. The T&T student who arrived last Friday had been to Shanghai for studies but left since her classes were put on hold.

In the Senate, Deyalsingh was questioned by Thompson-Ahye on the T&T student who returned home. “The Trinidad and Tobago national is in self-isolation and has been since last Friday. That’s the protocol being followed around the world. People who are low risk are put into self-isolation instead of institutional isolation,” he said.

“If you present with no symptoms and are deemed to be low risk, you’re put into self-isolation. This is being followed in the UK, Canada, the US and everywhere around the world. We’re no different, we’re following international best practice.”

He explained that self-isolation is imposed for those who pose little or no risk of transmitting the disease.