People who are currently outside Trinidad and Tobago should stay out to prevent a second or a possible third wave of COVID- 19 cases, says Caribbean Public Health Agency executive director Dr Joy St John.
St John’s recommendation comes even as some members of the public and Opposition continue to call for a reopening of the borders to allow some nationals stranded abroad to return home.
Speaking at a virtual press conference on Wednesday, however, St John said opening the borders will not allow T&T to flatten the curve.
She said epidemiological data on COVID-19 cases is currently being compiled which shows the analysis of the distribution, patterns and determinants of health and disease conditions in defined populations. This date, he said, is already showing that they must be very careful in how they approach treatment and management of the spread of the virus. She noted that a risk profile is also being done on patients, incorporating data on their ages and health history to help the in the battle to eradicate the virus.
“We don’t have the full picture. PAHO (Pan American Health Organisation) may have it. We do not just do a demographic profile but also an epidemiological profile because we are aware that there will be second and third waves of the disease,” she said.
“People with diseases, lung conditions, those older with underlying conditions, there are some people who will not be exposed but if we open our borders and increase traffic from countries with transmission (then we could have a second or third wave).”
Asked whether the Caribbean was already seeing a second wave, St John responded, “We are about to get into the sloping of the curve and we are on the flat part, please don’t put a second wave on top of that.”
Asked whether other countries outside of the Caribbean were experiencing a second wave, she said, “A second wave on top of the first wave is not the experience globally. There is an epidemic curve, a peaking, waning and then cessation. Usually, if there are no deaths in 14 days you are out of the first wave. Having a second wave means the measures that we put to curtail the disease in the first wave have been lifted.”
However, she said most countries are increasing their measures and have expanded the range of businesses that cannot open and implementing certain suppression measures.
“We’re not in the second wave yet,” she added.
Minister of National Security Stuart Young announced the closing of the nation’s borders from midnight on March 22 until further notice, which meant a ban on all incoming international passenger flights.
Several nationals, including groups in Barbados, Suriname and Venezuela, have been unable to return home and people from several spheres, including their family members, have been urging the Government to allow them to return home, while the UNC has even threatened to take the matter to court.
However, both Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley and Young have reiterated repeatedly that they will not reopen the borders as they have to act in the best interest of those here in T&T by keeping the borders closed.