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Roshan Parasram

Chief Medical Officer Dr Roshan Parasram has denounced the idea of using Tobagonanians as a metaphorical guinea pig for the lifting of restrictions and reopening the economy.

In a video message to Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley yesterday, the Tobago Business Chamber’s chairman, Martin George, called on the Prime Minister to “fully reopen the Tobago economy, use it as a test case, and let’s see if we can manage it.”

But speaking during a Ministry of Health news conference yesterday, Dr Parasram shot down the idea as too risky.

“No part of the country, whether it be Tobago or any of the counties…would be used as a test case,” he said.

“Because what we are implying is that we’d use an area and see if the cases rise and of course if the cases rise there would be an increased number of deaths. No part of the country would be used as a test case because Trinidad and Tobago is one country…our Public Health Regulations are driven by public health guidance as well as other factors which the Prime Minister would always take into consideration prior to making those ultimate decisions.”

In the video, George observed that the partial easing of restrictions, while a good start, do not go far enough, and has proven impractical for tour operators in Tobago.

George said times are hard on the island for everyone and suggested that reopening it can help.

“There is a tremendous level of hardship being experienced by ordinary citizens,” George said.

“It can be a way to go give a boost and fillip to economic recovery.”

According to statistics from the Tobago House of Assembly’s Finance and Enterprise Secretary, Joel Jack, approximately 6,000 people working in the tourism industry have lost their jobs.

He said tourism accounts for approximately 13 per cent of the island’s Gross Domestic Product.

Last Sunday, the World Health Organisation (WHO) called for countries around the world to stop using lockdowns as their primary COVID-19 control measure.