THE LATEST ON CORONAVIRUS COVID-19

This page will be regularly updated to bring you the latest on coronavirus COVID-19 in Trinidad and Tobago, across the region and internationally. The latest information will be placed at the top of this feed.

T&T: TOBAGO’S COVID-19 HOTLINE
March 20

Tobago resident Manuela Rueede of Switzerland washes her hands, on Friday, at a sink provided by the Tobago House of Assembly at the entrance to the Scarborough market at Shaw Park. (Image: CAMILLE McEACHNIE)

Starting tomorrow, Saturday March 21, anyone in Tobago suffering from flu-like symptoms can call 211 for help.

The hotline, set up by the Tobago COVID-19 Multidivisional Task Force, puts callers in touch with doctors attached to the Tobago Regional Health Authority (TRHA) and County Medical Officer for Health.

According to a TRHA release, the hotline is manned seven days per week, all day.

The release said accessing the line is simple:

  • Call the line.
  • The doctors will interview you.
  • They will determine if you should head to the nearest health centre or the Scarborough hospital.
  • The authority will then put protocols in place to either or monitor or treat the patient.

The release reminded persons to do the following:

  • Wash hands with soap and water for 20 seconds or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Cover coughs and sneezes with a flexed elbow, if tissue is used, disposed of it in the bin and hands washed.
  • Avoid people who display flu-like symptoms.
  • Stay home is sick and if you need to go out practice social distancing.
  • Clean and sanitize all surfaces.

T&T: fERRY SERVICE ANNOUNCES SAILING CHANGES, ANTI-COVID-19 MEASURES
March 20

The Inter-Island Ferry Service has announced new operational protocols, which are designed to reduce the risk of COVID-19 infection to staff, crew and passengers.

The Inter-Island Ferry Service has announced new operational protocols, which are designed to reduce the risk of COVID-19 infection to both staff, crew and passengers.

The full content of the Notice issued by the Inter-Island Ferry Service, follows…

NOTICE

PASSENGERS TRAVELLING ON THE INTER-ISLAND FERRY SERVICE

Amended Business Hours:

POS                           5.00 am – 11.00 am               12.30 pm – 5.30 pm

Scarborough             5.00 am – 11.00 am               3.00  pm – 11.00 pm

Amended Sailing Schedule

DaysFrom POSFrom Scarborough
Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday7.30 am &
4 pm
7.30 am & 5 pm
Wednesday8.00 am4.00 pm
Sunday9.30 am &
3 pm
9.30 am & 5 pm

Terminal Arrangements

  • All passengers, employees and external stakeholders will be required to undergo a screening exercise prior to entering our port terminals and ferries.
  • Access to terminals by Customers/Passengers, Employees, Port Users and external suppliers/stakeholders only. No loitering is allowed on the compound.

Social Distancing:

Due to the configuration of the vessels the following passenger allocations will be applied:

  • Jean de la Valette      – 350 passengers
  • T& T Spirit                – 200 passengers
  • Galleons Passage      – 200 passengers

On – Board Arrangements

  • Limited movement during the sailing of the vessels
  • Limited cafeteria operations – Passengers are required to travel with their consumables

The Management of TTIT is committed to providing a safe and healthy environment for our customers, employees and other port users as we maintain our essential inter-island ferry service. 

T&T: EVANGELICAL CHURCHES TO SUSPEND SERVICES FOR 14 DAYS
March 20

The following is a statement by the T&T Council of Evangelical Churches:

The TTCEC, in cooperation with the Government of Trinidad & Tobago, would like to advise our members to adhere to the directives given to mitigate the spread of the COVID-19 virus. The general public has been asked to avoid gatherings above 25 persons and religious bodies have specifically been asked to limit gatherings.

As such, we urge our members to suspend all major activities for the next fourteen (14) days.

The evangelical body is encouraged to continue in fellowship by taking advantage of modern technology available to us:

  • Meetings can take place online using apps which allow for group video calling such as: WhatsAppGoogle HangoutsApple FacetimeZoom and any other suitable app.
  • Online streaming services, such as on YouTube or Facebook, can also be used for the proclamation of the Word of God and corporate worship in lieu of regular church services.
  • Be creative in finding new ways to advance the Gospel through the use of the Internet and social media.

We also ask our member organisations to seek out and disseminate all relevant info being provided by the Ministry of Health and other government entities which will be helpful in keeping our congregants well informed and educated.

Let us be sensitive to discern the season that we are currently in and make every effort to redeem the time, using this and every opportunity to spread the message of hope in Christ.

INT’L: WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION TO YOUNG PEOPLE:
“YOU ARE NOT INVINCIBLE”
March 20

UNTV
UNTV

Story by CNN’s Amanda Watts and Jacqueline Howard

The World Health Organization has issued a stark warning to young people during the novel coronavirus pandemic who believe their age may protect them from the disease.

“Today, I have a message for young people: You are not invincible. This coronavirus could put you in hospital for weeks, or even kill you. Even if you don’t get sick, the choices you make about where you go could be the difference between life and death for someone else,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said Friday.

Tedros said he is grateful so many young people are, “spreading the word and not the virus” adding, “every day, we are learning more about this coronavirus and the disease it causes. One of the things we are learning is that although older people are the hardest hit, younger people are not spared.”

“Data from many countries clearly show that people under 50 make up a significant proportion of patients requiring hospitalization,” Tedros said.

T&T: TOBAGO SUPERMARKET REOPENS, NEW SANITISING PROCEDURES
March 20

A customer washes his hands at a sink installed by the management of Viewport Supermarket, Scarborough, on Friday morning. (Image: CAMILLE McEACHNIE)

Relief spread across Tobago as Viewport Supermarket—based in Scarborough and Canaan—reopened its doors today (Friday, March 20).

The supermarket is one of two well-known Tobago grocery brands.

The management of the long-standing and well-established grocery shut their doors on Thursday, March 19, citing COVID-19 safety concerns for staff and customers.

They asked for guidelines from the authorities.

In a release on social media on Thursday night, the management said:

“We have been working with the authorities to provide a safe environment in this trying time. Thus, we intend to open for business…after employing stringent sanitary measures and with new procedures in place to protect everyone.”

“This includes the phased rollout of delivery and pickup service: ViewportGo supermarket.com.go.”

The supermarkets’ Managing Director, Melony Hunte, told Guardian Media that in addition to installing sinks at the stores’ entrances, a limited number of people would be allowed in the groceries, at any point in time.

“We are satisfied that we are keeping our staff and customers safe as we are also sanitizing our trolleys constantly. We are encouraging all who visit us to follow our rules and guidelines,” Hunte said.

T&T: RECREATION FACILITIES CLOSED IN CHAGUANAS
March 19

The Chaguanas Borough Corporation has closed recreation grounds under its control as part of several measures to control the spread of the Covid-19 Virus.

The announcement was made by Chaguanas mayor Vandana Mohit during a news briefing at the corporation’s administrative complex at Cumberbatch Street on Wednesday.

Mohit said, “With immediate effect our Municipal Police of the Chaguanas Borough Corporation will increase and strengthen their support with the Trinidad & Tobago Police Service Central Division by assisting in the maintenance of law and order through policing duties within the Borough of Chaguanas. Special attention will be placed on the monitoring and operations of the Chaguanas Market, restricting gatherings of persons numbering 25 and more, and monitoring of medical institutions and food supply outlets within the Borough of Chaguanas.

She said COVID-19 has been forcing the corporation to streamline and implement changes.

Mohit said permission has been granted to administration, the Municipal Police and the deputy mayor to enter the Chaguanas Market to relocate vendors, who are on the isles, entrances and exits, to vacant stalls to prevent congestion.

“Vendors who are on the isle and have assigned stalls, we are requesting you to conduct sales from your stalls. The CBC market’s operational hours are now between 6 am to 4.30 pm from Mondays to Fridays, and 6 am to 2 pm on weekends and on public holidays.

She said this is to allow shoppers a wider time span for shopping, preventing crowded conditions

As a support mechanism, the corporation will undertake to sanitise the market space at least three times per day.

She said the use of all recreational facilities within the Borough of Chaguanas and the auditorium of the Chaguanas Borough Corporation will cease with immediate effect, until further notices.

T&T: T&TEC DEFERS DISCONNECTIONS
March 19

The following is a press release from T&TEC:

In recognition of the social and economic impact of the Covid-19 virus, and in the spirit of the Honourable Prime Minister’s announcement on March 18th regarding providing financial relief for affected citizens during this time, T&TEC immediately increased the qualifying limit for disconnections as a result of nonpayment. This will have a direct impact on customers who are most likely to be experiencing financial vulnerability at this time. Specifically, the disconnection of 87 per cent of residential customers has been deferred. Never the less, the Commission has kept service centres open to allow customers to pay bills only. This is in addition to the other options that are available, including the Commission’s website, independent bill payment places and Commercial Banks. T&TEC acknowledges that some customers may experience delays in accessing our cashiers, due to social distancing protocols which make lines longer. As a result, lines at smaller service centres may extend outside occasionally. While the Commission has adjusted the way in which it is offering services to customers, all business operations are continuing as normal. T&TEC, therefore, urges customers who are not financially impacted during this time to continue to utilise any of the available options to pay their electricity bills on time.

T&T: COVID-19 ‘PANIC’ CAUSING TRIVIAL ACCIDENTS
March 19

Road safety officials are concerned that with COVID-19 hitting T&T’s shores, the nation is on edge, resulting in a lot of what they describe as “trivial and stupid” accidents.

Highlight the issue today (Thursday 19 March 2020) was PC Brent Batson, Road Safety Project Coordinator at the T&T Police Service. PC Batson was speaking during a webinar event hosted by the American Chamber of Commerce of T&T (AMCHAM T&T), titled “Motor Vehicles and The Road Traffic Act—How the Demerit System will affect companies”.

The UTurn System that is to take effect from April 2 will see the implementation of a: Red-Light Camera System; The Demerit Points System; Reformed Fixed Penalty Ticketing System and Transformation of the Licensing Division.

PC Batson, in his online session for the corporate viewers, said that people are very stressed in recent days and especially out on the roads.

“There is a lot of anxiety. We are getting a lot of trivial stupid accidents in car parks… So it goes to show that the nation is a bit on edge,” Batson said.

He urged people and companies to apply defensive driving principles.

“Give yourself a lot more room, a lot more space to anticipate people who are not paying too much attention,” he advises. “They will be taking chances by taking a lot of distracting calls. People WhatsApping each other or calling to say ‘go to the grocery make sure you get this or get that’, because of how on-edge they are.”

With respect to the Demerit Point System, PC Batson explained that there can be multiple traffic violations, for example, speeding and breaking a red light. He said the driver will be responsible for paying all the stipulated fines on each ticket. He explained further that only the violation that carries the highest number of demerit points will be applied to the driver’s permit record of the driver.

During his presentation, Business Development Manager at ANSA Rentals, Ian Haywood, disclosed challenges that the company may have in terms of vehicles rentals to foreigners who carry out any traffic violations. He suggested that agreements be reviewed and their credit cards be held for a certain period of time after they have left the country.

He also urged human resources departments and fleet managers to take proper logs as to who is using a company vehicle and period of time they are doing so. He says in the event of any traffic violations and resulting issuance of tickets, companies could quickly ascertain the driver of the respective vehicle at that point in time.

He also urged companies to ensure that their respective company vehicles are inspected, with insurance up to date; are properly maintained and in good working condition.

Other presenters in today’s webinar included Sharon Inglefield, President of Arrive Alive; and Robert Visser, Managing Director of Total Convenience Management.

T&T: TT SUPERMARKETS AND WHOLESALERS IMPLEMENT ANTI-COVID-19 MEASURES
March 19

Some supermarkets and wholesalers already have begun limiting to ten, the number of consumers who can enter their premises. 

Guardian Media spoke today with Mikael Mohammed, director of Tee Jay Wholesalers of Munroe Road, Cunupia, who said their operations were closed to ensure the compound was restocked and sanitised.

Mohammed said misinformation had been circulated that a case of COVID-19 was found at the facility. He said this was the furthest from the truth.

According to the wholesaler, the facility needed to close in order to restock and ensure proper sanitisation. Guardian Media understands the sanitisation exercise was undertaken with the use of sprays and fogging devices.

Mohammed said there has been a large flow of customers, all of whom are demanding canned foods, sanitisers and cleaning supplies.

He said the business re-opens on Friday and would only allow ten customers inside at a time. Security would ensure that customers stay at least 3 feet apart. He said there also would be curb-side assistance where an employee would collect a list from the consumers, fill the request and deliver it to the car.

Mohammed said his company has taken a very serious approach towards the curbing the spread of the deadly disease.

T&T: CDA CLOSES ACCES TO PENINSULA BEACHES
March 19

The Chaguaramas Development Authority (CDA) is advising the public that with immediate effect, access to major beaches on the Chaguaramas Peninsula has been curtailed.

In an official statement, the CDA says that the Police Service and the Defence Force will increase patrols in these areas, to ensure that the closures are adhered to, and that Government’s regulation against gatherings of ten or more persons is not breached.

The full text of the CDA’s statement, follows…

On the heels of the Prime Minister’s call yesterday to limit gatherings to ten people or fewer, the Chaguaramas Development Authority (CDA) has taken immediate steps in closing off access to the Peninsula’s major beaches at Macqueripe, Williams Bay and Chagville.  This has become necessary as it was reported that despite the call of the Prime Minister, the Macqueripe Beach remain crowded.

Cabinet yesterday agreed that gatherings should be ten people or fewer, a reduction from 25 initially, in a bid to stop the spread of the Covid-19 virus.

In strengthening the Prime Minister’s appeal yesterday, the CDA took immediate steps in closing off the Macqueripe, Williams Bay and Chagville beaches, three popular recreational sites which attract many beach goers on a weekly basis.

The Authority has further reinforced Government’s call with collaboration among the CDA Police, the Carenage Police and the Trinidad and Tobago Defence Force in ensuring continuous patrols within the Chaguaramas Peninsula.

The CDA continues to exercise its civic responsibility by also ensuring that all bars, restaurants and other similar tenants within the Peninsula accede to this call.

The CDA has been at the vanguard from the onset in protecting the population from the spread of the deadly Covid 19 virus, having already suspended tours and all organized activities on its recreational parks and open spaces until further notice.

T&T: TTPS SUSPENDS CERTIFICATE OF CHARACTER SERVICE
March 19

Applications for Certificates of Character (CoC) have been suspended because of the COVID-19 pandemic that has hit T&T shores.

Up to midday on Thursday, there were nine confirmed cases in this country, all of which have been imported cases.

Guardian Media understands that people seeking to apply for CoCs at various police stations throughout the country have been turned away since Monday, and in some cases, since last week.

Corporate Communications Manager at the T&T Police Service (TTPS), Francis Joseph, confirmed with the Guardian Media and added that the suspension took effect from Monday this week.

“There is a suspension for one month on applications for certificates of character because of COVID-19,” Joseph said.

A CoC is an official document issued by the TTPS which states whether a person has a record of previous convictions in Trinidad or Tobago.

In most cases, a CoC from a person is required by potential places of employment, as well as by landlords of properties (commercial or residential) for rent or lease agreements.

T&T: RIC LIMITS WALK-IN CUSTOMER
March 19

The numbers of walk-in customers to the Regulated Industries Commission (RIC) are being limited, as part of that organisation’s attempts to protect staff and its customers against possible COVID-19 infection.

In an official statement released today, the RIC is asking customers to communicate with it via alternative means.

The full text of the RIC statement, follows…

The Regulated Industries Commission (RIC),  in adherence to the Government of Trinidad and Tobago’s guidelines as they relate to the COVID-19 pandemic and the need for social distancing, will be limiting our walk-in customer complaints service at this time.

Members of the public who are interested  in lodging complaints against either the water or electricity utility  service  providers,  can  do  so  via  the  RIC’s:

The health and wellness of the RIC’s staff, suppliers and customers  is of utmost importance  and the RIC will  be  implementing  additional  sanitization  mechanisms  to  ensure  a  safe  and  comfortable  working environment.

The  RIC  is committed  to maintaining  its  level  of  service  to  the  citizens of Trinidad  and  Tobago  as  the country attempts to reduce the risk of infection and slow the spread of COVID-19.

T&T: GOVERNMENT LOCKS DOWN CAURA RIVER
March 19

Days after several people were seen liming at the Caura River, the popular public space has been closed down by Government.

This follows the PM’s announcement that public gatherings should not exceed ten persons, and his hint that Government was considering cracking down on liming at bars and rivers.

During yesterday’s media conference, Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley had indicated that government was considering whether bars could lose their licences for breaching the regulations, as well as restricting access to Caura River and other popular public spaces, since gathering at these sites could be considered public health threats.

When Guardian Media visited Caura River, this morning, the area was deserted, except for a small group of CEPEP workers.

In addition, concrete barriers had been placed at the main entrance to prevent anyone from accessing the river.

Two CEPEP workers—Damion Phillip and Keisha Hinds—told Guardian Media the barriers at both Pools One and Two were placed there around 10.30 pm yesterday.

They also said Local Government Minister Kazim Hosein and MP Esmond Forde visited the area around 7 am today, to ensure there were no errant bathers at the Caura River.

The CEPEP workers praised the move by government to officially close the river, as they said it would reduce the water pollution and garbage often left by users.

T&T: CONFIRMED CASES RISE TO 9
March 18

The following is a statement by the Ministry of Health:

The Ministry of Health, Trinidad and Tobago, advises the population of two additional confirmed cases of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). One patient is a male and the other a female.

Both of the persons who have tested positive for COVID-19 have recent travel histories. The cases are unrelated.

Currently, in total, nine persons have tested positive for COVID-19 in Trinidad and Tobago.

Thus far, all positive COVID-19 cases in Trinidad and Tobago have been imported.

Members of the public are reminded that personal protective measures are the most effective tools against COVID-19. One of the ways that persons may avoid getting sick is by washing their hands:

·         after using the bathroom

·         before, during and after preparing food

·         after coughing or sneezing

·         when caring for persons who are sick

·         before eating

·         after handling animal waste

·         when hands are dirty

The Ministry will continue to provide accurate information to the public in a timely manner. The public is therefore urged to disregard and avoid sharing all unconfirmed, misleading and/or false information about COVID-19

T&T: COP ADVISES PUBLIC – USE OF LOITERING LAW WOULD BE ENFORCED
March 18

Commissioner of Police, Gary Griffith, is advising citizens that the law of loitering will be ramped up by the TTPS over the coming weeks in an attempt to keep people from assembling in large numbers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a statement this afternoon, the Commissioner says this is being done in line with the request of the Prime Minister and Chairman of the National Security Council, Dr Keith Rowley, to members of the public to act in a very responsible way in the coming weeks.

Here is what the Commissioner of Police has to say below:

On Monday, the Prime Minister called on bars to be closed, restaurants to curtail their business, and for citizens not to assemble in large numbers in

an effort to combat the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

The CoP says that while a large section of the population has adhered to the call by the Prime Minister, there would be a few which would refuse to comply and which could affect the health and safety of the citizens. He hopes that there would be no need to enforce the laws relating to loitering.

The CoP assures that over the coming weeks, the TTPS would increase its patrols across the country. He is confident that citizens would comply with the law relating to loitering. He wishes to advise that the patrols will be ramped up during the coming weeks as the authorities battle the COVID-19 virus which is already affecting the

world. This, he said, is being done for the welfare of the citizens and the directives of the State Commissioner Griffith hopes that the TTPS would not have to resort

to this, and he hopes that common sense would prevail.

The CoP says the TTPS would act in accordance with Section 45 (c) of the Summary Offences Act, Chapter 11:02 which states as follows:

IDLE AND DISORDERLY PERSONS

  1. A person committing any of the offences mentioned below in this section may be deemed an idle and disorderly person, and shall be liable to a fine of two hundred dollars, or to imprisonment for one month—

(a) any person who, being able by labour or other lawful means to maintain himself or his wife or child, where such wife or child is without other means of support, refuses or neglects to do so;

(b) any person wandering abroad or placing himself in any street to beg or gather alms, or causing or procuring or encouraging any child to do so;

(c) any person found sleeping or loitering in or under any building, including any open outhouse, verandah, gallery, passage, or gateway, or in any vehicle or vessel, without leave of the owner, occupier or person in charge thereof, or on or under any wharf, quay, jetty, bridge, footway, or in any street or other public place, and not

giving a good account of himself;

(d) any person who, without leave of the owner or occupier, affixes any placard or notice upon any building, wall, pillar, post, or fence, or otherwise defaces the same; (e) any person pretending or professing to tell fortunes.

REGIONAL: JAMAICA RECORDS FIRST COVID 19 RELATED DEATH
March 18

Jamaica has reported its first death from the Covid-19. According to the Jamaica Gleaner the patient died at the isolation facility at Mandeville Regional Hospital this afternoon. Up to Tuesday, Jamaica had recorded 13 cases of the virus.

T&T: T&TEC CUTS LIGHT AT RECREATION GROUNDS
March 18

The following is a press release from T&TEC:

Effective tomorrow, March 19, the lights installed on recreation grounds across Trinidad will not come on at dusk as normal. The Trinidad and Tobago Electricity Commission (T&TEC) has taken this decision to assist the country in its efforts towards reducing the spread of Covid-19, by discouraging gatherings at public spaces. The decision will remain in effect until further notice and applies only to recreation grounds. T&TEC thanks citizens for their understanding during this difficult time.

T&T: PRESIDENT’S HOUSE STOPS TOURS
March 18

The Office of the President has cancelled two planned tours of President’s House as part of its response to slowing the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) across the country.

In a release issued Wednesday, the Office of the President said the two tours of the public areas inside President’s House had been postponed to dates to be announced. The first of the public tours, which was organised after President’s House was recently reopened after undergoing refurbishment, was carded for March 31.

The Office of the President said the tours will be re-scheduled at the first available opportunity. It added that the people who won the right to go on the tours, a process done via a lottery system, will be contacted shortly with an update on the situation.

T&T: CAL ASSURES STRICT PROTOCOLS IN PLACE
March 18

Caribbean Airlines is ensuring that they are observing all protocols related to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) and “will continue to work closely with port authority health officials to not only safeguard their crew but the welfare of passengers.”

This was the assurance from CAL’s head of Corporate Communications Dionne Ligoure on Wednesday.

Ligoure told Guardian Media that the current global pandemic was a worrying concern for the world and citizens of this country and the airline had been observing certain protocols and guidelines when responding to any matters related to COVID-19.

Her comment came even as 68 T&T nationals returned home Wednesday after finally getting clearance to leave Guadeloupe, where they had been stuck on an ill-fated cruise ship where people aboard tested positive for the virus. This group was preceded by two women who returned home on Tuesday night. This duo tested positive for the virus while in-transit to T&T and were immediately taken to one of the quarantine facilities at either the Caura Hospital or the Couva Hospital.

Ligoure said she could not comment specifically on Guardian Media’s exclusive story about two confirmed female cases who came aboard the CAL flight from Barbados on Tuesday night, hours before the Piarco International Airport stopped accepting non-nationals into the country for the next two weeks.

But she encouraged the media, in general, to be responsible and mindful of how they report on COVID-19 matters.

Ligoure emphasised that every effort was being made to safeguard their crew members, who remain committed to working even in the face of this pandemic.

The Ministry of Health on Tuesday night reported that the confirmed number of COVID-19 cases had gone up to seven and all were imported cases.

Reporter: Mark Bassant

T&T: JUDICIARY MAKES ADJUSTMENTS TO SOME COURT DATES
March 18

The following is a press release from the Judiciary:

The Judiciary of Trinidad and Tobago would like to inform the public who have matters before the Court, that unless the Court contacts either yourself or your attorney and directs that you are to attend Court, or you have a domestic violence, maintenance, custody, or Proceeds of Crime case, your matter has been adjourned as follows:

T&T: PRICESMART TELLS SHOPPERS AVOID BRINGING CHILDREN TO OUTLETS
March 18

2765306
Shoppers wait in line to cash their goods at PriceSmart, Movie Towne, Invaders Bay, Port-of-Spain last week as they rushed to be essential supplies.

As members of the public continue to access groceries and large retail outlets to purchase essential supplies, owners and operators have been implementing internal health and safety measures designed to protect both employees and the public.

As such, officials at Pricesmart are now appealing to parents to avoid bringing children to outlets where possible.

Further, they are urging that only one family member should access shopping outlets, thereby allowing for more members to shop.

They added, “If possible, please maintain one meter distance from other members and club employees while shopping.”

The public is being warned that Pricesmart will be, “Limiting the amount of members in the building to avoid overcrowding.”

In a public notice dated March 18, officials said they continued to vigorously clean all surfaces and spaces, in addition to providing hand sanitizers at all locations.

In an update earlier this week, chief executive officer Sherry Bahrambeygui said the low stock count included items such as water, milk, beans, rice, pasta, canned seafood, paper towels, bath tissue, cleaning disinfectant, sanitisers, alcohol, soap and detergent, baby care, pain relief, vitamins, supplements, and gloves.

However, she said every effort was being made to replenish supplies as quickly as possible.

Pricesmart has said this, “May involve changing brands and sizes that are typically provided.”

In yesterday’s release, officials warned that, “We may place purchase limits on certain items that are in short supply, to serve maximum members.”

The public had also been placed on notice that given this exceptional situation – services including optical, tires and the food court will also be temporarily closed.

Regarding payment methods, officials encouraged the public to avoid cash payment as much as possible and to use contactless credit cards.

And at some locations, Pricesmart said while they had introduced expanded hours of operations to accommodate extended shopping, “In other clubs, we may reduce hours of shopping to comply with local regulations.”

They ended, “We are in unique and challenging times, let’s take good care of each other.”

T&T: 68 NATIONALS QUARANTINED AFTER RETURNING FROM CRUISE
March 18

The following is a press release from The Ministry of Health:

The Ministry of Health advises the public that sixty-eight (68) nationals who returned to Trinidad and Tobago from a Caribbean cruise today, were placed under immediate quarantine. These nationals have been quarantined due to the presence of other persons on the cruise ship who tested positive for COVID-19. None of these Trinidad and Tobago nationals have tested positive for COVID-19 at this time.

All passengers from the cruise ship were transported to the Piarco International Airport on a specific flight with no other public passengers. They were immediately screened by public health officials and transported to the assigned quarantine facility, with the assistance of the Protective Services and the Trinidad and Tobago Defence Force. All sixty-eight nationals will be held in quarantine, for a minimum of fourteen (14) days, and monitored closely by medical professionals.

The nationals are being quarantined at an isolated location, in a remote part of Trinidad and Tobago, and will be provided with the required amenities during this period.

All of the necessary infection control protocols (including the provision of Personal Protective Equipment to all relevant personnel and the strict sanitization of surfaces) are consistently and strictly being adhered to.

The Ministry of Health again urges all persons to refrain from any unnecessary travel at this time.

T&T: MCDONALD’S SUSPENDS IN-HOUSE DINING
March 18

Mcdonald’s is the latest restaurant in Trinidad and Tobago to suspend in-house dining at its outlets.
This, McDonald’s says is in keeping with the recommendations put forward by the T&T government to avoid the spread of the coronavirus.
The parent company Arcos Dorados, however, says it will continue to operate its drive-thru service until further notice and assures that it has intensified hygiene and food safety measures.
The restaurant also notes that during this time, employees will continue to be paid their salaries.

T&T: TWO NEW CASES TAKE LOCAL COUNT TO 7
March 17

The following is a statement by the Ministry of Health.

The Ministry of Health,Trinidad and Tobago, advises the population of two new confirmed cases of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19).

Thus, in total, seven persons have tested positive for COVID-19 in Trinidad and Tobago. All positive COVID-19 cases, thus far, have been imported.

The required infection control protocols continue to be implemented across the public health sector to ensure the continued effective management of the COVID-19 health challenge.

Members of the public are reminded that personal protective measures are the most effective tools against COVID-19. Social distancing is particularly critical at this time given the manner in which the disease is spread.

Social distancing means reducing one’s contact with others. Persons are encouraged to distance themselves from others, especially those who cough or sneeze. Additionally, kissing, hugging, shaking hands and participating in unnecessary social gatherings are not advised.

The public is also urged to take the following personal hygiene measures to protect themselves and their loved ones from COVID-19.      

T&T: REPUBLIC PREPARED TO REDUCE PRIME LENDING RATE
March 17

Republic Bank managing director Nigel Baptiste says the Finance Committee announced by the Prime Minister has met and had healthy discussions.

Speaking on a CNC3 special program hosted by Hema Ramkissoon, which addressed the issue of the impact of coronavirus on the economy, Baptiste said the banks have all committed to doing what they can to ensure that Trinidad and Tobago survives this tragedy.

Baptiste said, “we share a collective responsibility.”

Citizens, he said, have to protect themselves as individuals, businesses have to protect employees and the government had to protect citizens.

He urged citizens to look at expenditure patterns as individuals.

We all “need to stay close to one another” he said, “to understand what the needs of each other, we all have to find ways to support the communities we survive in.”

Baptiste said there are a number of measures banks have indicated to the Finance Committee that they are prepared to do. While he would not reveal those on behalf of all banks, Baptiste said Republic Bank was prepared to reduce its prime lending rate.

In addition, he said Republic was looking at seeing what “kind of loan payment” can be made to assist companies in the cash flow of their companies as they navigate this period.

T&T: PETROLEUM DEALERS WANT TWO WEEKS’ CREDIT FROM NP
March 17

The Petroleum Dealers Association of Trinidad and Tobago is calling on state fuel distributor NP to extend two weeks’ credit to all petroleum dealers, so that they could help citizens adjust to the tough challenge of containing the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

The PDA says that such a concession would show that NP is a good corporate social responsibility partner, and it would help dealers to manage their cash flow at an important time for an industry that is vital to national life.

The PDA notes that NP itself is the recipient of a 30-day line of credit from Paria Fuel Trading Company.

The PDA is also calling on NP to cancel the stringent credit requirements to which some dealers are now subjected. NP requires them to pay with certified cheques, and the PDA is calling on the state supplier to waive that requirement at this time. In addition to easing the burden on dealers, it would also mean that they do not contribute the kind of crowding at banks that increase the risk of spreading the virus.

T&T: HEALTH AND FITNESS GYMS CLOSED
March 17

All Health and Fitness gyms will be officially closed until further notice from 9pm tonight.

A statement by the company says that the accounts of clients will be credited for the number of days the gyms are closed.

The closure is part of the ongoing shutdown of businesses in light of the spread of coronavirus COVID-19 in T&T.

T&T: ONLY 25 ALLOWED AT CATHOLIC WEDDINGS, FUNERALS, WAKES
March 17

The Archbishop of Port-of-Spain is limiting the number of people at weddings, wakes and funerals to 25 people.

The following is a statement by the Archbishop of Port-of-Spain, Jason Gordon:

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Port of Spain has been and will continue to closely monitor the situation in consultation with an interdisciplinary team which includes health care officials on COVID-19.

Effective immediately, all weddings, funerals and wakes should be limited to 25 or fewer participants with abridged versions of the liturgy in order to most effectively maintain the “social distancing” called for by government officials and health care experts. Faith formation and other congregational gatherings are to be suspended during this time as well.

Parishes can make arrangements for the continuing formation of children or the rest of the faithful through the available digital resources. Clergy, however, are encouraged to remain attentive to the needs of those who are alone or sick and to offer them spiritual solace (taking the necessary precautions).

This can include taking the Eucharist to homes and celebrating the Sacrament of the Sick. Clergy are also asked to remain available and show prudence and pastoral creativity in ministering to their parishioners. All Catholics are strongly reminded to participate in Holy Mass on Trinity TV or Power 102 FM Radio @ 8.00 a.m. on Sundays.

The Archdiocese of Port of Spain will continue to keep all apprised of any further developments via facebook.com/catholictt or the Catholic News. We keep all impacted by the virus in our prayers and urge the communities to continue looking out for each other during these times, especially the elderly and other vulnerable groups.

All are urged to be responsible and follow the guidelines as set out by Church and State.

T&T: MINISTRY – 110 TESTED, 5 CONFIRMED CASES
March 17

The following is a statement by the Ministry of Health:

As part of the national drive to safeguard the health of the Trinidad and Tobago population in the face of the global COVID-19 outbreak, the Ministry of Health continues to provide up-to-date information on the country’s status in this regard.

As of the afternoon of Tuesday, 17th March, 2020 the Ministry reports the following:

·         Number of samples submitted to the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) for testing for COVID-19 = 110

·         Number of samples which have tested positive = 5

The public is also advised that the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) has the only lab that is certified to test samples for COVID-19 and therefore, it is the only lab that can confirm positive or negative results of the samples.

The Ministry will continue to provide accurate information to the public in a timely fashion. The public is therefore urged to disregard and avoid sharing all unconfirmed, misleading and/or false information about COVID-19 (formerly Novel Coronavirus).

As part of the proactive approach to protecting the Trinidad and Tobago population from the threat of COVID-19, the Ministry of Health has taken the official decision to institute two parallel health care systems.

One public health system will focus on addressing confirmed cases of COVID-19.

T&T: BANKS TO LIMIT NUMBERS OF PERSONS
March 17

Following The Honourable Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley’s post Cabinet briefing on Monday 16th March 2020, where further measures were announced to mitigate the spread of the COVID-19, the Bankers Association of Trinidad & Tobago (BATT) wishes to reassure customers that banks are working with the Government and its stakeholders to continue to provide safe and reliable services to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

The public is therefore advised of the following safeguard measures to protect the health and safety of customers, staff and community:

· The banks will be observing social distancing practices as advised by health care officials. As such, banks may manage the number of customers being serviced in the banking halls at any one time.

· Banks encourage customers who are displaying flu-like symptoms to avoid visiting the banking halls or bringing children to the banking halls

· If you must visit a Branch, you should avoid physical contact with persons and limit your contact with surfaces within the public spaces.

· Reduce your in-branch transactions and utilize digital and electronic channels

· Bank online or via telephone by contacting your Bank’s Call Center

· Use your Bank’s conveniently located ATM machines

· Customers are encouraged to use their debit and credit cards when making transactions, thereby minimizing the handling of cash.

BATT is committed to providing continuous updates to members of the public and to take action to reduce the risk of COVID-19 spread to our customers and staff at this time.

T&T: CANCER PATIENTS TOLD TO ISOLATE THEMSELVES
March 17

Chairman of the T&T Cancer Society (TTCS), Dr Asante Le Blanc, is urging cancer patients to isolate themselves, as far as humanly possible, to reduce their risk of COVID-19 infection.

And she says they need to ensure they eat healthy, nourishing foods, and follow hands washing and sanitising protocols closely, as well as get enough sleep and proper rest, in addition to other critical measures.

“They should be transported in a secure environment—preferably in a private vehicle that they know of that’s been sanitised,” she explains. “When they get in for treatment, of course in that clinical arena, there will be clinical precautions in place.”

She added: “Make sure the caregivers are healthy and they are honest about if they are feeling ill or any flu-like illness, because they will need to isolate themselves from that patient.”

Dr Asante advises that people ensure they have at least a 30-day supply of medication at home.

T&T: BOCAS LIT FEST POSTPONED
March 17

In light of recent developments of confirmed cases of COVID-19 and efforts to curb the spread of the virus in Trinidad and Tobago, the Board of the Bocas Lit Fest has moved to postpone the 2020 national literary festival, originally scheduled for May 1-3, to September 18-20, 2020.

The Writers Centre, and, by extension, the offices of the Bocas Lit Fest and the Two Cents Movement, situated at 14 Alcazar Street in St Clair, are now closed to the public until further notice.

The semi-final round of the 2020 First Citizens National Poetry Slam, booked for March 22 and 29, has also been postponed for now. However, the Grand Slam finale will take place on September 20 as the closing event of the NGC Bocas Lit Fest.

The Slam Committee advises that all ticket holders will have their semi-final tickets honoured at the rescheduled events, dates and times to be confirmed. For more information, email [email protected] or call 319-4749.

Finally, the annual NGC Children’s Bocas Lit Fest Storytelling Caravan, known to visit communities and children across Trinidad and Tobago throughout the month of April, has been called off for the time being.

Organisers of the abovementioned events are currently working to present a dynamic, responsive programme of activities for the foreseeable future, mindful of present constraints and the collective well-being.

T&T: MASSY STORES OPENS SPECIAL HOURS FOR ELDERLY, DIFFERENTLY-ABLED
March 17

Massy Stores has opened another hour to cater to the elderly and differently-abled.

The store will now open from 7am to cater only for these two categories of people.

The following is a statement by Massy Stores:

For the elderly and differently-abled persons, who require special care at this time, we are inviting you to shop with us from 7am – 8 am, Mondays to Fridays. Maintaining social distance is the safest option at this time so if you need to come into the stores earlier, we are ready to serve you! #OurFamilyServingYourFamil

GUYANA: AIRPORT NOW CLOSED
March 17

Following the lead of several other countries, Guyana is likely to close its borders and restrict air travel today as this country battles to contain the spread of the coronavirus, the Guyana Chronicle was told.

The official announcement is to be made before today.

Several other countries have taken the same step. The 27-nation European Union proposed shutting its external borders for 30 days on Monday.

On Saturday, the Ministry of Public Health announced that some four persons have been tested positive with the virus. They are all relatives of a woman who contracted the virus in New York, but traveled here and passed away last week. Her husband, daughter and two other relatives have tested positive.

Authorities are also concerned that several persons who travelled on a flight with the woman to Guyana might have been exposed to the disease. Hundreds also attended her wake at Good Hope, East Coast Demerara and interacted with relatives who were exposed to the woman. Many of them are under quarantine.

T&T: OFFICIALS PREPARE FOR RETURN OF NATIONALS ON CRUISE
March 17

The following is a statement by the Ministry of National Security:

The Government of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago is aware that there are approximately seventy (70) nationals of Trinidad and Tobago who are currently on a cruise ship, the Costa Favolosa, moored in Guadeloupe waters.

The Minister of National Security, the Honourable Stuart R. Young M.P. and other members of Government have been communicating with some of these nationals, as well as their family members and friends.

The Government is in communication with the French authorities to get accurate information on the status of our nationals on the ship, and how these authorities intend to treat with this situation. The latest information that we have is that arrangements are being made to repatriate our nationals.  

Government Agencies, in particular the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of National Security, are prepared to receive the Trinidad and Tobago nationals, and have been since yesterday, March 16, 2020, when they were expected to have arrived back in the country.

The public is assured that Government is working assiduously to assist these nationals to return safely to Trinidad and Tobago.

T&T: USC CLOSES, TRANSITIONS TO VIRTUAL CLASSES
March 17

The University of the Southern Caribbean issued the following statement:

The University of the Southern Caribbean has closed the Campus until April 20, 2020 in a bid to curb the spread of the COVID 19 virus.

The Administration of the University took the decision last week to close the Campus from this week to facilitate the transition of its courses to a Distance Learning modality. The main Campus in Maracas Valley as well as the Extension campuses in San Fernando and Tobago have all been closed to safeguard the health and safety of the faculty, staff and students of the institution from the dreaded COVID-19 virus.

The USC activated its Continuity Plan on the 16th March, 2020 which facilitates the continuation of classes via Distance Learning from the 23rd March, 2020 until April 20, 2020. The University’s staff will continue to work remotely to provide students with the necessary academic advising, support and counselling services to aid their progression and success during this crisis.

All residential students have been advised to return to their homes and all international students are encouraged to return to their home countries as the dormitories close on the 22nd March, 2020. All academic and social events have been cancelled for this semester and travel restrictions have been enforced for all faculty and staff.

The Administration of the University of the Southern Caribbean will continue to monitor the containment of the COVID-19 virus as we work in partnership with the Government of Trinidad and Tobago to minimize the spread of this virus.

T&T: TRAVEL AGENTS INUNDATED WITH CANCELLATIONS
March 17

Hospitality industry business owners say the travel and restaurant businesses are being hard hit with the current COVID-19 crisis

Chaguanas Travel Agent, Rajive Dipnarinesingh, reports that for the last two weeks, his 30-year-old operation has been bombarded with calls for cancellations.

Dipnarinesingh told Guardian Media that the travel situation was so bad that people had even cancelled flights to Tobago.

He warns that unless governments defers the payments of rates and taxes, many businesses will fold-up.

And Dipchand Persad, CEO of Passage to Asia, the largest Restaurant in Chaguanas and Central Trinidad, said he has had to let go most of his 80-plus staff members without pay.

Persad said the wage bill is simply too high to maintain without any income coming in.

He told Guardian Media he is exploring the possibility of a take away service, however, he said this too may be very unprofitable, since his utility bills are high. He said electricity alone costs around $20,000 a month with an additional cost for $15,000 a month for water, phones and internet.

Dipchand Persad said in addition, he has to pay an exorbitant rent for a branch of his restaurant that is located on Aripita Avenue, Port of Spain.

He, too, warns that unless taxes and rates are deferred, his operation may just come to a crashing halt.

Meanwhile, a caterer employed with the School Feeding Programme said she would be happy if the government could lend some food support to students who get school feeding lunches.

The caterer said her employees are employed on a day-by-day basis and would welcome the extra work.

T&T: MOVIETOWNE TO CLOSE TOMORROW
March 17

Movietowne has announced that it will close all of its locations from Wednesday, March 18 as a result of the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

Movietowne says that pending any further development, it plans to reopen on Wednesday April 1.

It says the decision is due to the risks and exposures arising from the virus.

T&T: PARLIAMENT SITTINGS TO CONTINUE
March 17

The following is a statement by the Parliament:

Please note regular sittings of the Senate and House of Representatives will continue as scheduled. As such, the 21st sitting of the Senate and the 22nd sitting of the House of Representatives will convene on Tuesday 17th March, 2020 and Friday 20th March, 2020 at 1:30 p.m. respectively.

In addition, all Joint Select Committee meetings and other meetings have been regrettably cancelled for this week. Once these meetings have been rescheduled, you will be notified. For further information please contact Mrs. Melissa Belgrave, Corporate Communications Officer, at 624-7275 Ext. 2318.

T&T: UWI CONSIDERS ONLINE CLASSES
March 17

The University of the West Indies (The UWI) St. Augustine Campus is aware that there are many questions following the announcement from Prime Minister, Dr The Honourable Keith Rowley at the Press Conference on Monday, March 16, that confirmed that all schools are now to be closed until April 20, 2020.

The Campus has taken note of questions, concerns and comments from staff and students via various platforms, and will respond comprehensively. In the first instance, guidance for our students and especially our regional and international students have been disseminated to the Campus Community via email. All staff and students are encouraged to check their UWI email for the full update. 

Some specific details include:

Over the past couple of days, UWI lecturers and administrators have been meeting to work out how best we can continue to teach amidst the global health challenge, and where possible, we will be moving to online classes. With over 700 programmes delivered at our Campus, Campus Administration is working to share the specific details for online delivery of courses (coursework, examinations, virtual library access etc) in short order.

  • With the Campus’s continued closure for the next five weeks, all non-national students who can safely return home are encouraged to do so. The safety and security of non-national students residing off-campus is of particular concern at this time. Campus Leadership wants to keep all available options open to students and will continue to support all students.
  • Campus Leadership is aware that there will be difficult and extenuating circumstances for students who cannot leave Campus or do not have another place to go. Existing Hall residents needing continued housing will be accommodated. Halls of Residence will remain open and arrangements will be made for those who require accommodation at this time. The Division of Student Services and Development (DSSD) will continue to follow up with students who live on Halls of Residence and in Off-Campus residences. Students with concerns or questions should email the DSSD at [email protected].

T&T: MINISTRY – 96 TESTED, 5 CONFIRMED
March 17

The following is a statement by the Ministry of Health:

As part of the national drive to safeguard the health of the Trinidad and Tobago population in the face of the global COVID-19 outbreak, the Ministry of Health continues to provide up-to-date information on the country’s status in this regard.

As of the morning of Tuesday, 17th March, 2020the Ministry reports the following:

·         Number of samples submitted to the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) for testing for COVID-19 = 96

·         Number of samples which have tested positive = 5

The public is also advised that the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) has the only lab that is certified to test samples for COVID-19 and therefore, it is the only lab that can confirm positive or negative results of the samples.

The Ministry will continue to provide accurate information to the public in a timely fashion. The public is therefore urged to disregard and avoid sharing all unconfirmed, misleading and/or false information about COVID-19 (formerly Novel Coronavirus).

T&T: ONLY 25 ALLOWED AT CREMATORIUM
March 17

The Port-of-Spain City Corporation has issued the following statement:

His Worship, Mayor of Port of Spain Alderman Joel Martinez along with members of Council and Administration have decided to make strategic decisions in the following areas, in line with policy decisions from Cabinet:

  1. PUBLIC SPACES CONTROL: The Port of Spain Corporation endeavours to sanitize ALL public spaces and so, we encourage persons to limit their gathering at parks and squares. Play parks that are equipped with exercise apparatus such as Nelson Mandela Park would be closed until further notice. An enhanced sanitation roll out will take effect immediately considering the urgency to respond to this health emergency. This includes the washing down and sanitizing of the city streets and popular places such as the Brian Lara Promenade and Queens Park Savannah footpath amongst others. Further, the Council has resolved to cancel all activities at Parks and Squares in keeping with the Government of Trinidad and Tobago’s prescription to limit/mitigate against the spread of the COVID 19 pandemic. Additionally, instructions have been issued for the closure of the Murchison Brown Auditorium at City Hall for the next two (2) weeks in the first instance.
  2. ISSUING OF FOOD BADGES: Under the order of Public Health department, issuing of food badges have also been suspended for the next two (2) weeks in the first instance.
  3. PUBLIC WASHROOMS ACCESS: An extension of opening and closing hours will be implemented to accommodate the public to utilise public conveniences/ washrooms in the capital city.
  4. BURIAL AND CREMATION SERVICES: The Council has directed that no more than twenty five (25) mourners are allowed at the Port of Spain Crematorium or at burial sites in the city of POS. Mourners will be guided by staff to ensure that final viewing and cremation/burial takes place as quickly as possible…We take the protection of the public’s health as paramount, therefore, necessary Infrastructure i.e.: tents and chairs will be provided to conduct services outdoors, in keeping with the prohibition of gatherings of no more than twenty five (25) people.

T&T: PRESIDENT CALLS FOR CALM
March 17

President Paula-Mae Weekes issues the following statement on Tuesday:

Fellow citizens, Trinidad and Tobago and indeed the world is facing a grave health crisis. The medical experts and government have pronounced and the media is doing its part to get the message out. It is now for us to do our part and exercise rigid social responsibility. I appeal to you to remain calm, now is not the time for criticisms and recriminations. Together, we must focus on what needs to be done to get as many of us through this as safely as possible. We’ll resume the river limes, the church services, the bar scene and feting when the crisis is over but as it is likely to get worse before it gets better, we need to hold strain.

I urge you to follow the guidelines set out by the Ministry of Health. Wash your hands, frequently and thoroughly. Resist the urge to touch your face, especially after touching unsanitised surfaces. When greeting friends and acquaintances, do not shake hands, hug or kiss. Avoid gatherings of more than 25 where the potential for spreading the virus multiplies exponentially. For those of us not in the high-risk categories, consider that we are likely to be in physical contact with someone who is – a family member, a colleague, a fellow passenger. Please observe the advice as if your life depended on it. Someone’s does.

I take this opportunity to thank our medical personnel, at the frontlines of this fight, for their service and dedication.

The faithful will be moved to prayer – hopefully while practicing social distancing – and there is power in that, but whatever your belief, empathy is paramount. Be kind, be compassionate. Where you can, assist – an elderly neighbour unable to visit the grocery or pharmacy, the disadvantaged lacking the wherewithal to access necessary supplies – and remember, all of us are our brothers and sisters keeper.

T&T: 5TH CASE CONFIRMED
March 16

“The Ministry of Health, Trinidad and Tobago, advises the population of one additional confirmed case (imported) of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). The patient is a twenty-six (26) year old male.

Thus, in total, five persons have tested positive for COVID-19 in Trinidad and Tobago at this time.

WORLD: NORCECA BEACH VOLLEYBALL INTER-ZONAL POSTPONED
March 16

After a cordial sport greeting from NORCECA Volleyball Confederation and the Beach Volleyball Department in particular, on this occasion, we regret to inform you the postponement of the
Beach Volleyball Inter-Zonal event that was foreseen to be held on March 19-23, 2020 in
Managua, Nicaragua.

As consequence of the worldwide coronavirus pandemic outbreak COVID- 19 and the fact that several airports in our continent are closed for incoming travelers, NORCECA
has decided, in joint consultation with the host National Federation to postpone for a later date, the NORCECA Beach Volleyball Inter Zone Continental Cup.

In NORCECA, as in FIVB, the health and safety of our athletes, referees, officials and fans is first priority, one that we must take care. The decision to postpone the event will ensure that athletes can focus on their health and fitness, and preparedness for the conclusion of their qualification to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games Beach Volleyball Competitions.

T&T: MINISTRY – 84 TESTED, 4 CONFIRMED POSITIVE
March 16

The following is the latest update by the Ministry of Health on COVID-19.

As part of the national drive to safeguard the health of the Trinidad and Tobago population in the face of the global COVID-19 outbreak, the Ministry of Health continues to provide up-to-date information on the country’s status in this regard.

As of the afternoon of Monday, 16th March, 2020the Ministry reports the following:

·         Number of samples submitted to the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) for testing for COVID-19 = 84

·         Number of samples which have tested positive = 4

The public is also advised that the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) has the only lab that is certified to test samples for COVID-19 and therefore, it is the only lab that can confirm positive or negative results of the samples.

The Ministry will continue to provide accurate information to the public in a timely fashion. The public is therefore urged to disregard and avoid sharing all unconfirmed, misleading and/or false information about COVID-19 (formerly Novel Coronavirus).

As part of the proactive approach to protecting the Trinidad and Tobago population from the threat of COVID-19, the Ministry of Health has taken the official decision to institute two parallel health care systems.

One public health system will focus on addressing confirmed cases of COVID-19. The Caura Hospital and the Couva Hospital and Multi-Training Facility will be used for this purpose. The public is therefore encouraged to access the standard public health care services via the other existing health facilities, as usual.

T&T: HÄAGEN-DAZS SUSPENDS DINING-IN SERVICES
March 16

Häagen-Dazs says it will be suspending dining-in services at all its shops with immediate effect.

The company says this is in keeping with the government’s guidelines for the safety of nationals.

It is encouraging customers to place orders via phone and says it will implement a pick-up system at all its locations.

T&T: GRIFFITH ‘FARING WELL’ IN SELF-QUARANTINE
March 16

On his third day of self-quarantine, Commissioner of Police (CoP) Gary Griffith says he is faring well.

Speaking with the Guardian Media on Monday, Griffith said he wears his hat as CoP at home.

“I have never felt better but I am operating as CoP, no different than I would had I been in my office,” Griffith said.

Griffith, who attended a commissioners of police conference in London recently returned to T&T via a connecting flight at Miami International Airport. He was away for ten days. Given the two confirmed cases of COVID-19 last week, Griffith said he chose the most responsible thing to do which is having himself quarantined at home for the stipulated 14-day period.

On Sunday night two more cases were confirmed.

Griffith said he remains committed to his office and the service of the citizens. With respect to the members of the T&T Police Service and the COVID-19 pandemic, Griffith said international models were looked at.

Griffith said his focus at this time is a comprehensive Police Operational Policy to deal with our requirement and support to the nation, dealing with COVID-19, “whilst also looking after the well being of my officers during this period that may involve interaction with the public in the performance of their duties.”

T&T: TOBAGO BUSINESSES HAPPY WITH BORDER CLOSURE
March 16

Tobago businesses are in full support of the Government’s move to close this country’s borders to non-nationals from midnight March 17 for the next 14 days, to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

 They say they are sad to see the international flights temporarily cut from the island’s travel list, but hastened to add:” It has become necessary.”

 Reacting to Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley’s statements at the March 16 media briefing on COVID-19, business owners said they are “in full support.”

 Speaking specifically about interisland transports, Dr. Rowley told the country Government has set up a committee to examine  Caribbean Airline’s general operations, including the domestic airbridge.

He also said the interisland seabridge will operate within the COVID- 19 guidelines, which includes social distancing.

 He said the committee will decide if more sailings are needed with fewer passengers, per sailing.

 Chairman of the Tobago Division of the Trinidad and Tobago Chamber of Industry and Commerce Diane Hadad said business owners “support the Government’s actions.”

T&T: BUSINESS CHAMBER SUPPORTS GOVT’S MOVE
March 16

The Trinidad and Tobago Chamber of Industry and Commerce (T&T Chamber) listened attentively to the Honourable Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley’s address today. We commend the Prime Minister for taking decisive action.

The T&T Chamber believes the steps were necessary in the effort to flatten the curve as it pertains to the spread of the COVID19 virus. The T&T Chamber is certain that the measures announced by the Prime Minister will have an impact on businesses and the economy. However, if this virus is not contained the impact will be much more detrimental.

The T&T Chamber believes that at this time, we all have to take responsibility for combatting the spread of this virus so that we do not experience heightened transmission rates. As such, we accept that stringent measures at the border are necessary.

We await further information on inter-island travel and trust that a decision will be arrived at which is in the best interest of the people of Trinidad and Tobago. The temporary closure of schools and limiting of some business operations may have an impact on the population’s ability to meet certain financial obligations.

T&T: NO IN-HOUSE DINING AT KFC, STARBUCKS AND OTHERS
March 16

Prestige Holdings Limited, which manages KFC, Pizza Hut, Starbucks, TGI Fridays and Starbucks, will only serve customers via Take Out, Delivery and Drive Thru operations.

Prestige says that in keeping with the Government’s advice, “there will be no in-store dining at our restaurants.”

This will run from Tuesday 17 March to Monday 30 March, 2020.

CARIBBEAN: AMERICAN AIRLINES SUSPENDS FLIGHTS TO ST KITTS & NEVIS
March 16

Flights by American Airlines into St Kitts’ Robert L Bradshaw International Airport will be affected by drastic cut back in response to decreased demand and travel restrictions due to the coronavirus.
The Fort Worth-Texas-based airline announced the changes which will affect flights from Miami, New York and Dallas.
American said the reduction of its international capacity by 75% compared to last year took effect on Monday.
The St Kitts Tourism Authority in a statement Monday confirmed provided information on the flights which will be suspended and the period of suspension.
They are
SKB-MIA flights 1466 and 1236 (return overnight) – April 4th to June 4th, 2020.
SKB-JFK Wednesday flight 2210- April 4th, 2020 to June 4th, 2020.
Dallas- SKB flight- May 23rd to August 3rd, 2020.
The decision by American Airlines comes on the heels by
Royal Caribbean, Carnival, MSC Cruises and the Norwegian Cruise Line to suspending their itineraries to St Kitts and Nevis in an effort to contain the spread of the coronavirus.

T&T: VISITOR RESTRICTIONS AT PRISONS
March 16

Visitation restrictions have been implemented at the nation’s prisons in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.  

Acting Prison Commissioner Dennis Pulchan has confirmed that the number of visits and visitors at the prisons have been reduced.  

Instead of the usual six visitors per inmate twice a week, only one visitor will be allowed to visit an inmate once a week.  

Pulchan, however, said they have increased the number of items a visitor could purchase for an inmate at the prison cafeteria.

“We are asking the public to be understanding and understand that we are trying to control an epidemic when entering the prisons.”  

He said they were also hoping to obtain thermal scanners, but in the meantime, they are doing conversational screenings of visitors, inmates, and officers, before they enter the prison.

Pulchan will also be subjected to a screening process. If an inmate is exhibiting flu-like symptoms, he said the inmate will be referred to the prison’s infirmary and if necessary samples will be sent to CAFPHA.

T&T: SOUTHERN LAWYERS WANT COURTS CLOSED
March 16

The Assembly of Southern Lawyers is calling for all courts to be closed for at least two weeks in the first instance to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

“The courts should be closed at this time, particularly having regard to what the Prime Minister just said that there should be gatherings of no more than 25 persons. We all know that there are more than 25 persons at the court building at any one point in time,” said president Michael Rooplal. 

He called on the Judiciary to implement alternative measures for the management of matters in the interim, including the use of electronic case management.  He said civil matters could easily be managed through emails and phone contact. 

He told the Guardian Media that consideration could be given for persons on charge cases to be granted bail at the police stations, or if need be a court can be set up to deal with charge matters and other specific matters with a limited number of people present.   

CARIBBEAN: ANTIGUA & BARBUDA IMPOSES TRAVEL BAN ON SIX COUNTRIES
March 16

The Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority continues to keep abreast of the latest developments related to the Coronavirus/COVID-19 and would like to assure travellers that precautionary measures are being implemented to guard against further spread of the virus within the destination.

Antigua and Barbuda has one confirmed case of Coronavirus.  The individual is currently in self-isolation at home in Antigua and is being monitored. All identifiable contacts that this person has had, are being investigated.

Antigua and Barbuda remains open for travellers. However, foreign nationals (including passengers and crew) who have travelled to China, Italy, Iran, Japan, Korea and Singapore the past twenty-eight (28) days, will be not be permitted entry into Antigua and Barbuda. Citizens of Antigua and Barbuda as well as resident diplomats will be allowed entry.

Several precautionary measures have also been put in place including educational campaigns at hotels, with a focus on identifiable prevention, preparation and identification tips. The general public and travellers are reminded to take general measures against becoming ill, which includes regular hand-washing, good cough and sneeze etiquette, social distancing and avoidance of sick persons.

The national multi-sectoral COVID-19 task force established by the Government of Antigua and Barbuda continues to meet regularly, to assess all international and regional developments related to COVID-19.

CARIBBEAN: ST KITTS & NEVIS IMPOSES 14-DAY QUARANTINE ON TRAVELLERS FROM 12 COUNTRIES
March 16

Together with the world, St. Kitts & Nevis is navigating the rapid changes taking place as a result of a shared global effort to control the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19). During this time, our foremost priority is to protect the health and safety of all citizens, visitors and residents.

To date, St. Kitts & Nevis still has no confirmed cases of COVID-19. However, to help control the spread of the virus and, the Federal Government of St. Kitts & Nevis has issued COVID-19 travel advisories for visitors, citizens and residents arriving in from China, Italy, Iran, Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea, Japan, the United Kingdom (UK), Ireland, France, Germany and Spain.

Air passengers travelling to/from any of the above listed destinations within the last 14 days are asked to note travel restrictions and the 14-day mandatory quarantine period that is enforced for Nationals, Residents and Visitors. Persons who travel to St. Kitts & Nevis from these destinations will be subject to screening at the port of entry and a mandatory 14-day quarantine period, wherein their movements will be restricted to a designated facility, for air passengers, most likely their hotel. Air travellers are advised to contact their hotel in advance of arrival to determine if the hotel can accommodate a quarantine and to request information about fees and policies if travellers choose to postpone or cancel their trip.

For anyone choosing to forgo travel during this uncertain time, please know that we remain committed to delivering an outstanding experience of our twin-island destination and look forward to the time when this situation is behind us.  In the meantime, we ask all persons to stay informed about the latest news and developments relating to COVID-19 and to take all recommended precautions including everyday preventative actions to help stem the spread of the virus. These include frequent handwashing with soap and water or 60% alcohol-based hand sanitizers, frequent disinfection of surfaces, practicing social distancing and avoiding close contact with people who exhibit signs of respiratory illness.

T&T: PORT LIMITS BARREL SHOP CUSTOMERS TO 50 PER DAY
March 16

The Port Authority has implemented new measures at the Barrel Shop, which will include limiting the number of people per day to 50.

The following is a statement by the Port Authority issued on Monday.

“The Port of Port of Spain takes its duty of care to employees and customers very seriously.

Therefore, in the best interest of all please take careful note of the following changes made in order to limit the amount of crowds at The Barrel Shop with immediate effect.

 The One-Stop Barrel Shop will now facilitate a maximum of 50 customers
per day
 Any additional customer/s documents will be collected and customers are encouraged to return the following day to be serviced
 Customers are required to refrain from visiting the Barrel Shop if unwell.
 No customer will be allowed to enter the Barrel Shop if exhibiting symptoms of flu (coughing, sneezing etc). This also applies to drivers of vehicles who are collecting/receiving cargo.
 Customers are required to use social distancing of 6ft as per guidelines as much as possible while within the Barrel Shop.
 On entry into the Barrel Shop ALL customers are required to use the sanitization stations to sanitize hands.

Please be reminded these changes are in the best interest of all. Thank you for your kind
consideration and hygienic practices while visiting The One-Stop Barrel Shop.

T&T: TRINIDAD & TOBAGO SHUTS DOWN ITS BORDERS, BARS TO BE CLOSED
March 16

Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley has announced that the country’s borders will be locked down to all outsiders for the next 14 days.

The measure will kick in at midnight Tuesday March 17.

Dr Rowley made the announcement at a news conference at the Diplomatic Centre Monday morning following a Special Cabinet Meeting.

“Cabinet met this morning and has taken the decision that Trinidad and Tobago will cease to encourage and facilitate for the next 14 days, entry into this country except for people who are nationals of Trinidad and Tobago,” Dr Rowley said.

He made it clear that only nationals of this country will be allowed in.

Dr Rowley said that exemptions will be given to health workers who may need to enter the country.

“Other than that we are basically disconnecting ourselves from the international community for the next 14 days,” he said.

He added that this will have significant ramifications for the national airline, Caribbean Airlines.

He said the Government will look at the Heritage and Stabilisation Fund to help sustain the country but added that “the health and safety of the citizens of our country is priority number one.”

“We have to isolate ourselves from the supply, the source of the virus outside of Trinidad and Tobago,” he said.

“We are in a crisis. We are in an emergency. There is no game saying that,” he said.

He said there are currently 75 elderly citizens in the Caribbean who are trying to come home and will be allowed to do so.

Locally, the prime minister added that all bars will be closed within T&T.

He said the government is also advising against that all gatherings beyond 25 persons.

T&T: SCHOOLS TO REMAIN CLOSED UNTIL APRIL 20, CHURCHES TOLD TO CLOSE
March 16

Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley says that all schools will remain closed until the start of the third school term, April 20.

He made the announcement at a news conference following a special meeting of the Cabinet Monday morning.

Schools were initially closed for one week before the extension was announced.

The prime minister also appealed to private school owners to also shut their doors, saying that the aim is to reduce gatherings.

The prime minister also called on churches to stop congregating, saying that as long as people congregate the chance of the virus spreading will be increased.

T&T: LEADING RESTAURANTS CLOSE DOORS FOR 10 DAYS
March 16

Formal wedding place setting on long table background focus on wine glass

The owner of Trent Restaurants Ltd, Peter George, has confirmed that all portfolio restaurants—Trotters, Buzo, Amara, Blue Star Diner and Tommy’s—will be closed to dine-in services from Tuesday 17, March for an initial period of no less than 10 days.

In an official statement, Mr George said the move was in response to the growing national threat of COVID-19.

Trent Restaurants also stated that all brands will continue to service their customers via curb side pickup and delivery options, once deemed safe, using the strictest World Health Organisation protocol standards from their international consultants.

In the release, Mr George notes that staff members will be rotated to ensure minimal disruption and says every measure will be taken to preserve the financial and physical well-being of all Trent Restaurants employees.

“This is not a step out of panic but out of prudence,” he stated. “T&T has stayed ahead of this virus and it’s critically important that we remain so through short term sacrifice.”

ST VINCENT: T&T RESIDENT QUARANTINED
March 16

A Nigerian-born T&T resident was placed under quarantine in St Vincent and the Grenadines shortly after his arrival there from Guyana.

Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves said in a radio interview that the man’s arrival led to the closure of the domestic terminal of the Argyle International Airport (AIA) and the airline, LIAT,  was grounded for several hours.

He said Port-of-Spain had initially said that it would not allow the LIAT aircraft to land or the man to deplane. The man, who is married to a T&T national, was turned away from a number of hotels in St Vincent before one decided to allow him to complete his quarantine at their facilities.

The man had left Guyana after having only been in quarantine for seven of the mandatory 14 days after he tested positive for the coronavirus (COVID-19). Gonsalves, who detailed the incident as he gave an update on his government’s plans to deal with the virus, said he was prepared to make his private home available for housing the man if hotel accommodation had not been secured.

Gonsalves said that apparently, the Trinidad-based Caribbean Airlines (CAL), which had flown the man to Guyana, had identified him “as somebody whom they will have to watch because he came in on the flight went to the Guyanese authority and he attempted to leave the night before the last (Friday night) from Guyana on CAL”.

CAL denied the man boarding and at 11:50 pm. Friday, the Trinidadian carrier sent traffic communication to LIAT.

“Normal traffic, not anything heightened, I understand, to indicate that they had stopped this person and he might try to get to Trinidad by LIAT,” Gonsalves said, adding “but LIAT didn’t see that traffic.”

T&T: MINISTRY – 81 TESTED, 4 CONFIRMED
March 16

The following is an update from the Ministry of Health:

As part of the national drive to safeguard the health of the Trinidad and Tobago population in the face of the global COVID-19 outbreak, the Ministry of Health continues to provide up-to-date information on the country’s status in this regard.

As of the morning of Monday, 16th March, 2020 the Ministry reports the following:

·         Number of samples submitted to the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) for testing for COVID-19 = 81

·         Number of samples which have tested positive = 4

The public is also advised that the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) has the only lab that is certified to test samples for COVID-19 and therefore, it is the only lab that can confirm positive or negative results of the samples.

The Ministry will continue to provide accurate information to the public in a timely fashion. The public is therefore urged to disregard and avoid sharing all unconfirmed, misleading and/or false information about COVID-19 (formerly Novel Coronavirus).

As part of the proactive approach to protecting the Trinidad and Tobago population from the threat of COVID-19, the Ministry of Health has taken the official decision to institute two parallel health care systems.

One public health system will focus on addressing confirmed cases of COVID-19. The Caura Hospital and the Couva Hospital and Multi-Training Facility will be used for this purpose. The public is therefore encouraged to access the standard public health care services via the other existing health facilities, as usual.

Additionally, Public Health Inspectors will visit various public locations within communities where large gatherings are common (e.g. schools, supermarkets and malls) to advise key representatives on the necessary health care precautions.

T&T: OPPOSITION LEADER CALLS FOR MEETING WITH PM
March 16

Leader of the Opposition Kamla Persad-Bissessar has written to Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley calling for an urgent meeting between Government and Opposition members to discuss the ongoing severe negative and destabilizing economic, social and medical impact and repercussions of the current Coronavirus pandemic on Trinidad and Tobago and its citizenry.

Please see the text of the letter below:

I hope that this correspondence finds you in good health and good spirits, despite the very serious challenges we currently face as a nation in the wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic. Indeed, it is for this very reason that I write to you seeking an urgent bipartisan meeting of our respective Parliamentary teams (each selected at their leader’s discretion) to discuss the severe economic, social and medical threat that our citizenry faces at present from this deadly pandemic, with a view to ensuring that at the end of the day, when the worst of the disease has passed, we retain a democracy that remains ready and able to function in economic and social stability and progress.

As a key national stakeholder, the Opposition UNC is responsible for 18 Parliamentary constituencies throughout the country, as well as seven Regional Corporations at the Local Government level, which places more than half the population under our direct administrative and legislative purview. As you are well aware, however, the very system of Parliamentary democracy that governs our nation in fact places the official mandate of governance, and its attendant State resources and legal power, at primarily the Government’s disposal.

In our nation’s history, with good sense and faithful adherence to our democratic principles, we have persistently managed to make this adversarial Constitutional system work, especially since we have a longstanding and highly beneficial tradition of bipartisan cooperation in admittedly infrequent  times of natural disasters and national emergencies, which affect all our citizens in a manner that very often threatens to destroy their lives and livelihoods. I am sure, Mr. Prime Minister, that as a longstanding and very experienced career politician and public servant as I am, you would agree that the current COVID-19 is indeed one such time of national emergency. It thusly requires, indeed, mandates of us, that we set aside our partisan instincts and seek to work together in battling this very dangerous threat to our nation’s ongoing economic and social viability.

CHAMBERS OF COMMERCE SUPPORT GOVT’S MEASURES FOR WORKERS
March 15

The Chambers of Commerce are supporting the move by the Government for employers to put measures in place for workers in the midst of the spread of COVID-19.

The Joint Chambers issued the following statement on Sunday.

“The Joint Chambers fully support the sentiments expressed at this morning’s press conference by the Minister of Labour, Small and Micro Enterprises.

We commend the Minister and the Government for taking proactive steps to address this unprecedented threat to the people of Trinidad & Tobago.

The Joint Chambers fully support the calls from the Minister of Labour for all employers to put in place measures to encourage home working wherever possible.

Many of our member companies have already instituted home working policies and other measures to promote social distancing and intensified hygiene controls in the workplace. We encourage all citizens to take these measures very seriously. Lives depend on it.

The Joint Chambers have noted the guidelines proposed by the Minister of Labour. We look forward to discussing the details of these guidelines with the Government and Trade Union representatives at the National Tripartite Advisory Council (NTAC) in the coming days.

We support the call of the Minister of Labour for all employers to be compassionate and to, as far as reasonably possible, grant appropriate leave to employees with unexpected childcare obligations and any employee who needs to be self isolated.

T&T: HEALTH OFFICIALS CONFIRM CASES RISE TO 4
March 15

The Ministry of Health has announced that Trinidad and Tobago is now up to four cases of coronavirus COVID-19.

The following is a statement by the ministry.

The Ministry of Health, Trinidad and Tobago, advises the population of two more confirmed cases of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19).

Thus, in total, four persons have tested positive for COVID-19 in Trinidad and Tobago at
this time.

Additional information will be provided as the situation develops.

REGIONAL: CONCACAF SUSPENDS ALL TOURNAMENTS
March 15

Concacaf has moved to immediately suspend all its competitions for the next 30 days, just 24 hours after halting the Champions League due to the deadly coronavirus outbreak.

In a statement this weekend, the continental governing body for football in North, Central American and the Caribbean said the decision was made following a conference call with its executive council on Thursday.

“Given the constantly evolving public health situation and global concerns about the spread of COVID-19, the Concacaf Council convened yesterday via a conference call,” the statement said.

“During the meeting, the decision was made to suspend all upcoming Concacaf competitions scheduled to take place over the next 30 days.

“The Concacaf Council took these decisions with the welfare of everyone involved in mind, and in light of developing travel restrictions and public health guidance.”

The decision means the Men’s Olympic Qualifiers set to begin March 20, the first round of the 2021 Gold Cup Qualifiers scheduled to kick off March 26, and the Caribbean Club Shield carded for April 3-12 in Curacao will now be delayed indefinitely.

On Thursday, Concacaf said the Champions League, which is at the quarter-final stage, would be postponed.

T&T: BPTT CLOSES OFFICES FOR ONE MONTH
March 15

The country’s largest natural gas producer BPTT has decided to close its offices for a month as it response to the COVID-19 threat.

In response to questions from Guardian Media BPTT said for the past week its Health and Crisis Management teams have been working on our response to COVID-19.

It noted that in keeping with the rest of the BP Group it had decided to close its Port of Spain and Galeota offices and staff not required at work will be allowed to operate remotely.

BPTT said: “BP Group has announced that any staff not required at a work site for safe and reliable operations, will transition to working virtually from home until at least 15 April 2020.  As a result, our Port of Spain and Galeota offices will be closed during this period.”

It said as a multinational organization with global operations and large movement of staff across regions to support operations, the company has taken this measure to minimize the risk of exposure to COVID-19 while maintaining critical operations.

BPTT produces half the country’s total output of natural gas.

EUROPE: EU STATES RECORD HIGHEST ONE-DAY DEATH TOLL
March 15

Medical staff wearing protective suits carry the coffin containing the body of Assunta Pastore, 87, after she passed away in her room at the Garden hotel in Laigueglia, northwest Italy, Liguria region, Sunday March 1, 2020. The woman, part of a group of elderly tourist from the Lombardia region, tested positive of the COVID-19. The hotel has been placed under quarantine as Italy continued to scramble Sunday to contain the spread of the corona virus. (AP Photo)

The three states bearing the brunt of the coronavirus pandemic in Europe have all recorded their highest death tolls for a single day.

Italy saw 368 deaths bring its total to 1,809, Spain recorded 97 more deaths for a total of 288, and France reported 29 deaths, giving a total of 120.

The UK also saw a single-day record, with 14 new deaths and a total of 35.

Governments across Europe have responded by curbing the movements of citizens and tightening borders.

Germany is to impose controls on its borders with France, Switzerland, Austria, Denmark and Luxembourg as of Monday morning, while Portugal will clamp down on its frontier with Spain.

The Czech government has introduced stringent lockdown measures: people will be allowed to go to and from work and buy food or medicine, and make urgent family visits, but otherwise free movement will be severely limited from midnight (23:00 GMT) on Sunday until 24 March.

Austria is banning gatherings of more than five people from Monday, and the Republic of Ireland is asking pubs to shut until 29 March.

Schools will be closed across many European states.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has now declared Europe the “epicentre” of the pandemic which originated in China.

SOURCE: www.bbc.com

T&T: DIABETES ASSOCIATION CANCELS EVENTS, MEETINGS
March 15

The Diabetes Association of Trinidad and Tobago (DATT) has been monitoring the global spread of the COVID-19 Virus, particularly its impact on the elderly and persons living with underlying chronic diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease and respiratory conditions. These individuals are more susceptible because of compromised immune systems. While we note for most persons in the general population who contract the virus, the effect is mild to moderate (80%), for the remaining 20%, hospitalization may be required.

Most of these more serious cases are among people over the age of 60-80 years (range reported by different countries) and/or have underlying conditions such as Diabetes.

From the global data thus far, people with diabetes tend to have a higher chance of infection with the COVID19 virus and a higher risk of further complications compared to the general public. Fluctuations in blood sugar or other underlying comorbidities common in persons living with diabetes means that a physician-led treatment approach should be implemented upon the presentation of symptoms.

This is recommended, as person with poorly managed diabetes have elevated blood sugar levels which create an environment for the COVID-19 virus and other seasonal flu and cold
viruses which may lead to longer recovery periods.

Out of an abundance of caution, the DATT will be taking the following precautions towards the safety of our members and persons living with diabetes:

Starting Monday 16th March, and for the remainder of the month,

All DATT branch meetings will be cancelled
All DATT outreaches/testing/activities/events will be cancelled
All testing at our Head Office will be cancelled
Our head office located on Success St, Chaguanas, will still be open during our regular hours of operation (Monday to Friday 8am-3pm) to facilitate the sale of strips and the coordination of information releases to the public.

We further advise that the elderly and persons with compromised immune systems practise social distancing as the most apparent vulnerable group in this pandemic. This means to limit unnecessary exposure to members of the public and relatives.

T&T: BOARD OF INLAND REVENUE ADJUSTS SERVICES
March 15

The Board of Inland Revenue (BIR) has announced adjustments to its services in light of the threats posed by COVID-19.

The following is a statement issued by the BIR on Sunday:

In light of national guidelines recently issued to safeguard the health and safety of the nation’s citizenry in relation to the global COVID-19 pandemic, the Board of Inland Revenue (BIR) wishes to advise members of the public of the following adjustments beginning tomorrow, 16th March, 2020 and continuing, in the first instance, until 20th March, 2020.

Cash and Linx payments will only be accepted at the registers of the following locations:

• Port of Spain Regional Office, IRD Tower, Cashiers’ Unit
• Tunapuna District Revenue Office
• San Fernando Regional Office, Cashiers’ Unit
• Tobago Regional Office, Cashiers’ Unit Cheque payments will be accepted via deposit boxes labelled for that purpose at all offices, with the exception of the aforementioned Tobago Regional Office, which will also accept cheque payments at the register.

While the Board of Inland Revenue stands ready to facilitate the full range of services offered, in line with social distancing recommendations intended to minimise the spread of COVID-19, the public is advised to refrain from accessing any non-essential services at this time.

The Board apologises for any inconvenience caused as a result of these measures.

T&T: T&TEC URGES ONLINE PAYMENTS
March 15

As the provider of an essential service, the Trinidad and Tobago Electricity Commission is committed to maintaining its high level of service to customers as the country collectively adopts measures to limit the spread of Covid-19 (Novel Coronavirus).

In an effort to ensure the health and safety of employees and customers, protocols were previously implemented to increase sanitization at all customer touchpoints across the Commission.

Effective Monday March 16, additional procedures will be effected, as follows:
• Customers are strongly encouraged to utilise T&TEC’s website to pay bills and initiate service requests such as new connections, temporary disconnections, account transfers, relocation of poles, meter checks and updating contact information.
• For customers who are unable to conduct business online, Service Centers will be open for bill payments ONLY.
• Social distancing protocols will apply at all service centres. Customers are encouraged to exercise patience as wait times may increase during this period.
• Customers who require other services are required to contact their nearest service centre via telephone or email to initiate those services.
• Customers who require bill balances or a copy of a bill are reminded to sign-up for ebilling or download the T&TEC Mobile App from the Apple or Google Play stores.

US: NEW YORK CITY TO CLOSE SCHOOLS, BARS, RESTAURANTS
March 15

New York City will close public schools, and as U.S. cases of the new coronavirus climb well past 3000, states and cities are ordering bars and restaurants to close in an effort to encourage social distancing and try to stem the outbreak.

A spokesperson for Cuomo made the announcement about schools on Sunday evening.

Ohio governor Mike DeWine announced Sunday he has ordered all bars and restaurants in the state to shut down service beginning at 9 p.m. this evening.

“How long will this order be in effect? We don’t, frankly, know,” DeWine told reporters Sunday. “It will be in effect for as long as it needs to.”

DeWine said carryout and delivery services were not included in the order, and said his administration is working to help small businesses that will inevitably suffer because of the closures.

Ohio’s decision comes as other states are putting in place similar protocols. On Sunday, Illinois governor J.B. Pritzker ordered bars and restaurants in the state to close from March 16 to March 30. On CNN Sunday, Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti said he plans to enact a similar policy in his city.

SOURCE: https://www.nbcnews.com/

GUYANA: AMERICAN AIRLINES SUSPENDS FLIGHTS
March 15

American Airlines has suspended its service to several destinations, including Guyana.

In a statement, late Saturday, the US-based carrier announced that effective Monday and until May 6, it will be suspending its service to Guyana from both Miami and New York.

According to the airline, flights scheduled for Monday will operate as scheduled but the suspension will take full effect afterwards.

American Airlines operates daily flights to Guyana from New York and Miami.

The airline will be waiving all change of date fees for those passengers already booked on its service.

Other affected countries in South America include Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru.

“This suspension will last through May 6. This change is in response to decreased demand and changes to US government travel restrictions due to the coronavirus (COVID-19).”

SOURCE: http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/

T&T: PM TO HOST NEWS CONFERENCE AFTER SPECIAL CABINET MEETING
March 15

Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley will host a news conference tomorrow following a Special Cabinet Meeting.

The following is a statement by the Office of the Prime Minister:

“Prime Minister Dr the Hon Keith Rowley will convene a Special Cabinet Meeting tomorrow (Monday 16 March, 2020) at 9:00 am. The Prime Minister will also host the Post-Cabinet Media Briefing at 11:00 am.

Members of the media are invited for full coverage of the media briefing.”

The news conference will be carried live on all of CNC3’s major platforms.

T&T: UWI SHUTS DOWN ST AUGUSTINE CAMPUS THIS WEEK
March 15

The University of the West Indies (UWI) says that apart from suspending classes, it will now shut down the St Augustine campus this week.

The following is a statement issued by UWI on Sunday:

The health, wellness and safety of all our students and staff and their families remains the priority. We are guided by the updates from the Ministry of Health as well as the Ministry of Labour and Small Enterprise Development from the recent Press Conferences as we continue to monitor COVID-19 nationally. Therefore, in addition to the suspension of classes, the Campus facility will be closed this week.

The internal Incident Management Team (IMT) continues to implement the COVID-19 Response Plan for the Campus. This includes considerations for business community, with many of our staff working virtually from tomorrow, March 16, to allow for critical planning.

Members of the public conducting business with the Campus are encouraged to engage the relevant campus department via email. The Campus Directory can be found online via our website at https://sta.uwi.edu/directory.

Other critical queries can be directed to [email protected].

T&T: MINISTRY – 81 TESTED, STILL ONLY 2 CONFIRMED
March 15

As part of the national drive to safeguard the health of the Trinidad and Tobago population in the face of the global COVID-19 outbreak, the Ministry of Health continues to provide up-to-date information on the country’s status in this regard.

As of the afternoon of Sunday, 15th March, 2020 the Ministry reports the following:

·         Number of samples submitted to the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) for testing for COVID-19 = 81

·         Number of samples which have tested positive = 2

The public is also advised that the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) has the only lab that is certified to test samples for COVID-19 and therefore, it is the only lab that can confirm positive or negative results of the samples.

The Ministry will continue to provide accurate information to the public in a timely fashion. The public is therefore urged to disregard and avoid sharing all unconfirmed, misleading and/or false information about COVID-19 (formerly Novel Coronavirus).

As part of the proactive approach to protecting the Trinidad and Tobago population from the threat of COVID-19, the Ministry of Health has taken the official decision to institute two parallel health care systems.

One public health system will focus on addressing confirmed cases of COVID-19. The Caura Hospital and the Couva Hospital and Multi-Training Facility will be used for this purpose. The public is therefore encouraged to access the standard public health care services via the other existing health facilities, as usual.

Additionally, Public Health Inspectors will visit various public locations within communities where large gatherings are common (e.g. schools, supermarkets and malls) to advise key representatives on the necessary health care precautions.

BAHAMAS: GOVT ANNOUNCES 1ST CASE
March 15

The Bahamas Government on Sunday at 1 p.m. announced its first case of COVID-19, but more concerning than the announcement was the fact that no one knows, at this stage, where the woman picked-up the dreaded contagion.

“She presented with symptoms of fever and cough, she is not known to have travelled outside of the country in the past 20 days and at this time the patient’s exposure is unknown.  The patients and family members have been informed of this diagnosis.  She is receiving care, in the designated isolation area of the Princess Margaret Hospital,” said Jeffrey Lloyd, Acting Minister of Health, The Bahamas.  

Acting Minister of Health, Jeffrey Lloyd led the Task Force in the debriefing which was held precisely seven hours after the team was informed of the positive test results on a 61-year old woman, resident in Nassau, New Providence and who has not been outside of the country for the past 20-days.

T&T: LABOUR MINISTRY ISSUES GUIDELINES FOR EMPLOYEES & EMPLOYERS
March 15

1) Children are not to be at workplaces/compound/vehicle etc.

2) All parents are encouraged to use support systems (babysitter, family, etc.)

3) Employers are to implement remote work policies.

4) Employers are to explore options of shift work/ or rostering.

5) One parent is encouraged to stay at home and look after the child or children.

6) If work arrangements can’t be made, the employee is to stay at home and can’t be penalized or not be paid in such an instance.

7) If you are not genuinely sick don’t stay away from work.

8) Pandemic leave for Public Officers (contract or not), fixed terms employees, short term, OJT, officeholders who are with service commission, freelancers, persons employed less than a year, daily paid, etc.

9) Mechanisms in place for Public officers with no more sick leave can get an extension of sick leave with full pay.

10) Minister of Labour advises private employers with the union to seek guidance with respect to sick leave clearance for employees who need Pandemic leave. If there is no union, seek guidance from the Ministry (Conciliation Advisory and Advocacy Division). 299 0300 ext 2043, 2124.

T&T: TTCB SUSPENDS ALL LOCAL CRICKET ACTIVITY
March 15

The Trinidad and Tobago Cricket Board (TTCB) is suspending all cricket activity in T&T under its jurisdiction.

The TTCB issued the following statement on Sunday:

The Trinidad and Tobago Cricket Board has suspended all cricket activities under its jurisdiction for a period of 30days in the wake of worrying concerns about the spread of the Coronavirus (Covid-19).On Sunday, president of the TTCB, Azim Bassarath, said that the shutdown of local cricket came after discussions with the leading stakeholders of the game. 

Immediately affected were the National League competitions, the Price Club Under-17 Interzone tournament, and training sessions for the Under-15 squad selected for the regional championships. Bassarath also urged all organizers of minor league competitions to follow suit in the interest of public health and safety.

Over the weekend, Cricket West Indies, the regional cricket authorities announced the halting of the regional four-day tournament, while the Jamaica Cricket Association also put a hold on their activities.

T&T: MINISTRY – 77 TESTED, STILL ONLY 2 CONFIRMED
March 15

As part of the national drive to safeguard the health of the Trinidad and Tobago population in the face of the global COVID-19 outbreak, the Ministry of Health continues to provide up-to-date information on the country’s status in this regard.

As of the morning of Sunday, 15th March, 2020 the Ministry reports the following:

·         Number of samples submitted to the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) for testing for COVID-19 = 77

·         Number of samples which have tested positive = 2

The public is also advised that the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) has the only lab that is certified to test samples for COVID-19 and therefore, it is the only lab that can confirm positive or negative results of the samples.

The Ministry will continue to provide accurate information to the public in a timely fashion. The public is therefore urged to disregard and avoid sharing all unconfirmed, misleading and/or false information about COVID-19 (formerly Novel Coronavirus).

As part of the proactive approach to protecting the Trinidad and Tobago population from the threat of COVID-19, the Ministry of Health has taken the official decision to institute two parallel health care systems.

One public health system will focus on addressing confirmed cases of COVID-19. The Caura Hospital and the Couva Hospital and Multi-Training Facility will be used for this purpose. The public is therefore encouraged to access the standard public health care services via the other existing health facilities, as usual.

Additionally, Public Health Inspectors will visit various public locations within communities where large gatherings are common (e.g. schools, supermarkets and malls) to advise key representatives on the necessary health care precautions.

T&T: ZOO CLOSES FOR ONE WEEK
March 15

The Emperor Valley Zoo will be closed from today for one week as part of a move to reduce the spread of coronavirus COVID-19.

The Zoological Society of Trinidad and Tobago has issued the following statement:

The Zoological Society of Trinidad and Tobago (ZSTT) in exercising its social responsibility to assist with the control of the transmission of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), is announcing the closure of the Emperor Valley Zoo for one week starting tomorrow, Sunday 15th March, 2020.

President of the ZSTT, Gupte Lutchmedial said that the decision was not an easy one but recognising the popularity of the Zoo as a destination for both nationals and non-nationals, this is the most responsible prevention measure that can be taken at this time.

The ZSTT is committed to working in partnership with the Government of Trinidad and Tobago as this country takes the necessary measures to address this pandemic.

The ZSTT is expressing its appreciation in advance to its guests for their understanding and cooperation and will keep the public apprised as the situation changes.

T&T: BMOBILE MAKES SOME WEBSITES FREE FOR COVID-19 INFO
March 15

Bmobile has announced that it is making it easier for customers to access accurate information
and the latest news on COVID-19.

Effective March 15, the provider has zero-rated websites of the following organisations, making it possible for all bmobile customers to visit the sites at no charge:

World Health Organisation (WHO)

Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA)

Pan American Health Organization (PAHO)

Ministry of Health TT (MOH)

Ministry of Communications

Office of Disaster Preparedness and Management (ODPM)

Trinidad and Tobago Guardian

Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Trinidad Express

CNC3

TTT

TV6

Bmobile is assuring customers that the websites can be accessed from any mobile internet compatible device for free and without fear of depleting existing data bundles.

It says that if, however, customers are redirected to another website not included in the zero-rated list, charges may be incurred.

“bmobile recognizes that a critical part of taking the necessary precautions to protect against the virus entails having accurate, verifiable information easily available. As the indigenous provider, deeply invested in Trinidad and Tobago and bridging the digital divide, bmobile remains committed to doing its part to provide support when needed the most,” the statement said.

JAMAICA: TWO NEW CASES, ONE TRAVELLED THROUGH T&T
March 15

Two new cases of coronavirus COVID-19 in Jamaica have pushed to toll there up to 10.

This follows 19 tests conducted in the last 24 hours.

The Ministry of Health and Wellness says one of the cases was identified through contact tracing related to patient 1, which the other was identified with a travel history through Trinidad and Tobago.

Both persons are currently in isolation.

T&T: MINISTER TELLS PRIVATE EDUCATIONAL INSTITUTIONS TO STAY CLOSED
March 15

Education Minister Anthony Garcia is calling on private educational institutions to heed Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley’s call to close, this week. 

In a press release issued Sunday, Garcia claimed that the ministry was aware that some private schools had indicated that they would open tomorrow morning despite the week-long shutdown of public schools and learning institutions due to COVID-19 pandemic, announced on Friday.

Garcia said: “These measures have been instituted to safeguard our population from the risk of contracting COVID-19. Principals must recognise that they have the ultimate responsibility of acting in the best interest of all students and stakeholders.” 

The ministry encouraged principals, parents, and stakeholders to utilise ICT infrastructure and resources, recently boosted by it, to effectively manage their individual situations.  

T&T: US EMBASSY SUSPENDS VISA APPOINTMENTS
March 15

The US Embassy has suspended all in-person visa appointment.

The Embassy issued the following statement this effect Sunday morning.

“Effective March 16, 2020, the United States Embassy Port of Spain is canceling routine in-person immigrant and nonimmigrant visa appointments. Interview waiver cases, which do not require physical presence, will still be processed.

We will resume routine visa services as soon as possible but are unable to provide a specific date at this time. The MRV fee is valid and may be used for a visa application in the country where it was purchased within one year of the date of payment.

If you have an urgent matter and need to travel immediately, please follow the guidance provided at https://ais.usvisa-info.com, or call 868-235-4500 to request an emergency appointment.”

On Saturday a statement purported to be from the Canadian government cancelling all visas, proved to be wrong. The Embassy said it was posted on a website that mimics the Canadian Embassy.

T&T: PANDEMIC LEAVE FOR WORKERS WITH CHILDREN
March 15

Minister of Labour Jennifer Baptiste-Primus speaks at a news conference Sunday morning.

Public servants, who cannot find supervision for their children over the next week while schools are closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, can now benefit from pandemic leave. 

The novel paid-leave, part of a draft national policy for workplaces during the pandemic, was announced by Labour Minister Jennifer Baptiste-Primus during a press conference at her ministry’s headquarters in Port-of-Spain, this morning. 

Baptiste-Primus explained that the leave would immediately apply to public officers, who are permanent, temporary, monthly paid or daily-rated, on fixed or temporary contracts, who fall under the Salaries Review Commission, and On-the-Job Trainees (OJTs). 

It will apply to public officers assigned to Government ministries and State-companies. 
Baptiste-Primus noted that the policy, which is expected to be taken to Cabinet after the National Tripartite Advisory Council considers it early this week, will have to be implemented by private companies through consultation with trade unions. 

During the press conference, Baptiste-Primus presented a series of guidelines to be applied by private-sector employees and employers before the full implementation in their workplaces. 
She encouraged employees with children to first utilise their usual support systems and employers to implement policies to allow employees with children to work from home. 

“One parent is encouraged to stay at home with the children while the other reports for duty,” Baptiste-Primus said. 

While Baptiste-Primus said that the ministry could not seek to compel private employers to implement the exact policy, she encouraged them to introduce compassionate measures aimed at ensuring business continuity while securing the national interest.

T&T: ANGLICAN CHURCH SERVICES SUSPENDED
March 14

Anglican Vicar General, Venerable Edwin Primus has advised that all Anglican church services are being suspended with immediate effect.

The following is a statement by the Vicar General:

“Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Further to the Bishop’s letter to you on the subject of the COVID 19 and in as much as Trinidad and Tobago has confirmed two cases together with the recent information shared by the Minister of Health, the Minister of National Security and Dr. Trotman at today’s press conference, all Church services are suspended with immediate effect until further notice.

We urge you to continue your devotions at home and to listen to the Anglican Voice on I.95.5fm tomorrow Sunday 15th March from 8.00p.m. for additional information on the way forward.

We continue to pray for our Nation in this crisis.”

T&T: GOVT CALLS ON CITIZENS TO CANCEL VACATIONS
March 14

Government is calling on citizens to cancel their vacation plans at this time until a cure if found for coronavirus COVID-19.

“Vacation is not essential. Cancel! Don’t reconsider, cancel,” National Security Minister Stuart Young told a news conference Saturday afternoon.

“At the end of the day the government is asking people to exercise social responsibility,” the minister said.

Asked whether the government will be implementing further travel bans, he added, “Right now, this thing is very fluid. The government continues to assess and we will continue to take advice from experts and the government is not ruling anything out at this stage.”

Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh added, “Put off, reschedule, cancel any vacation plans.”

‘Your health is more important at this time until there is a vaccine. Readjust your expectations at this point in time,” he added.

T&T: GOVT CHANGES HOSPITAL VISITING HOURS; 1 PATIENT CRITICAL
March 14

Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh has announced that from tomorrow, visiting hours at the country’s hospitals will be limited.

At a news conference Saturday afternoon, the minister said that the existing situation of two visiting hours will be changed to just one visiting hour session between the hours of 4 pm and 6 pm.

The morning visiting hours have been suspended.

The minister said that just one visitor will be allowed per patient. He added that exceptions can be made at the discretion of the health professionals on shift at the time.

For paediatric patients, just to parents and/or legal guardian will be allowed to visit.

“You can stay with your children for 24 hours but only parents and legal guardians will be allowed to visit our sick children,” the Minister said.

The minister said that response teams are already in place at Caura and Couva Hospitals and that the Arima facility which is opening next month, will also give additional capacity.

“From tomorrow, each of our major hospitals will have an area set up for the triaging of persons,” he said.

This will include the Port-of-Spain, Eric Williams, Sangre Grande and San Fernando hospitals.

He also called on citizens to “ignore social media”.

“Social media is causing more damage than coronavirus at this point in time,” he said.

Meanwhile, Thoracic Medical Director at the Caura Hospital, Dr Michelle Trotman said that the two confirmed patients are currently at the Couva and Caura hospitals.

She said the person at the Caura hospital has been recovering well and should recover in around 21 days.

She said that the patient at Couva is critically ill but said “the good news is that compared (sic) yesterday to today, that patient even though critically ill, is improving.”

National Security Minister said he had cause yesterday to stop a plane from coming to T&T and also to stop a person from boarding a flight as well.

He said security officials had to intervene when a person who was attempting to board a flight was stopped. He said the person did not opt to go into self-quarantine and therefore had to be taken into official quarantine.

T&T: ARCHBISHOP SUSPENDS ALL CATHOLIC MASSES
March 14

The Catholic Archdiocese has cancelled, with immediate effect, all masses across the country.

A statement by Archbishop Jason Gordon says:

“As we know our medical challenge with COVID 19 is changing rapidly. Further to yesterday’s press release regarding COVID-19, we have another confirmed case.

With the escalation we are experiencing, the Church needs to escalate her response as well based on current advice. Remember we are called to prudence, restraint and sacrifice.

With this in mind, all Masses are suspended. This is in effect from today, Saturday, March 14, 2020.

Our first priority is the protection of life and the safety of God’s people, especially the vulnerable who make up a large and important part of our Church community.

Because of the special nature of these times, all Catholics are strongly urged to fulfil their Sunday obligation by participating in Mass on Trinity TV or on Power 102 FM at 8 a.m. Sunday, March 15, 2020. The daily schedule will be released by Tuesday, March 17, 2020.”

The statement goes on to ask Catholics to pray daily as a family using scripture and the family rosary.

US: TRUMP EXPANDS EUROPE TRAVEL BAN TO INCLUDE UK
March 14

The US travel ban, which already applies to 26 countries in Europe’s Schengen area, is set to extend to include Britain and Ireland. The ban will go into effect on Monday night.

Donald Trump announced at a news conference Saturday that the US will “reveal plans” to extend its travel ban to the UK and Ireland in a bid to limit the spread of coronavirus but moments later Vice-President Mike Pence confirmed the ban.

It comes just a day after Donald Trump announced a national emergency in the US.

US: PRESIDENT TRUMP TAKES CORONAVIRUS TEST
March 14

President Donald Trump has been tested for the coronavirus and is awaiting results, he said Saturday at a press briefing, a day after he declared the coronavirus pandemic to be a national emergency

The president has had multiple direct and indirect contacts with people who have tested positive for the pandemic virus. Test results typically take at least 24 hours.

Meanwhile, millions of Americans are grappling with a new normal. More than a hundred universities have transitioned to online-only classes, and several states and large urban school districts are shutting down all K-12 schools as part of a sweeping attempt to contain the spread of the virus.

WORLD: OLYMPIC GAMES TO GO ON AS PLANNED
March 14

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has said the Tokyo Olympic Games will go ahead as planned in July, despite coronavirus concerns resulting in the postponement of many sporting events.

But he added that the International Olympic Committee (IOC) would have the final decision whether Tokyo 2020 went ahead.

Japan has had more than 1,400 cases and 28 deaths resulting from coronavirus.

T&T: VOLLEYBALL SEASON SUSPENDED
March 14

As you are well aware, the deadly COVID- 19 virus has found its way into Trinidad and Tobago. It is therefore imperative that the executive of the Trinidad and Tobago Volleyball Federation remains responsible in its operations to ensure that no one from the volleyball fraternity is negatively affected by its events, actions and decisions. With this in mind the executive has decided to suspend:
 All national team training sessions
 All developmental training sessions
 All volleyball events planned by the TTVF
 All volleyball events planned by affiliate clubs
Please note that this is to be actioned with immediate effect until further notice. Please be guided accordingly.

CARIBBEAN: CWI SUSPENDS GAMES
March 14

Cricket West Indies (CWI) acting on the recommendation of its Medical Advisory Committee (MAC) has taken the decision to suspend all CWI Tournaments and face-to-face group meetings, from Monday March 16, for a minimum of 30 days.

CWI Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Israel Dowlat, stated “the health and safety of our players, officials and staff, are of paramount importance to CWI and we have advised the Board of Directors to take proactive policy steps to decrease the growing risk of contamination and spread of the virus”.

Chairman of the MAC, Dr Donovan Bennett, stated, “We are acting based on medical best practice as well as in an abundance of caution. The ongoing gathering of even small groups of spectators, cricketers and match officials could pose a risk to some persons of contracting the virus and being stranded in quarantine in a non-resident country for a prolonged period.  Clearly this pandemic is still evolving, and we will continue to monitor the situation throughout the Caribbean”.

The following CWI tournaments have been suspended:

  • Final two rounds of the West Indies Championship – 26th to 29th March and 2nd – 5th April
  • The Women’s CMI Super 50 Cup, Guyana – 27th March to 12th April
  • Regional Under 15s Boys Championship, Antigua – 9th to 20th April
  • Regional Under 19s Girls Championship, Trinidad – 6th to 12th April

The following upcoming CWI meetings will be postponed, with all urgent CWI Board matters to be addressed via teleconference. More details and logistics will be forthcoming over the coming week.

  • CWI, Board of Directors’ meeting – scheduled for Antigua 17th & 18th April
  • CWI Annual General Meeting – scheduled for Antigua 19th April

CWI has also advised all Territorial Boards and Local Cricket Associations to follow the advice of their respective Ministries of Health.

T&T: 63 TESTED, 2 CONFIRMED, MINISTRY SAYS
March 14

As part of the national drive to safeguard the health of the Trinidad and Tobago population in the face of the global COVID-19 outbreak, the Ministry of Health continues to provide up-to-date information on the country’s status in this regard.

As of the afternoon of Saturday, 14th March, 2020 the Ministry reports the following:

·         Number of samples submitted to the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) for testing for COVID-19 = 63

·         Number of samples which have tested positive = 2

The public is also advised that the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) has the only lab that is certified to test samples for COVID-19 and therefore, it is the only lab that can confirm positive or negative results of the samples.

The Ministry will continue to provide accurate information to the public in a timely fashion. The public is therefore urged to disregard and avoid sharing all unconfirmed, misleading and/or false information about COVID-19 (formerly Novel Coronavirus).

As part of the proactive approach to protecting the Trinidad and Tobago population from the threat of COVID-19, the Ministry of Health has taken the official decision to institute two parallel health care systems.

One public health system will focus on addressing confirmed cases of COVID-19. The Caura Hospital and the Couva Hospital and Multi-Training Facility will be used for this purpose. The public is therefore encouraged to access the standard public health care services via the other existing health facilities, as usual.

US: NEW YORK CONFIRMS FIRST DEATH
March 14

New York state has reported its first death from the new coronavirus.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Saturday that the patient was an 82-year-old woman with emphysema who died at a hospital in New York City. She died on Friday. More than 500 New Yorkers have been diagnosed so far with COVID-19, the new illness that has sickened people around the globe. The virus causes only mild or moderate symptoms such as fever and cough for most people, but for some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness.

On a conference call with reporters, Cuomo said “The infection rate will be massive. We know that….the question is, at what rate? And can you slow the rate to meet the hospital capacity. And that is the essential question for the nation.”

Cuomo says he will sign an executive order today waiving the 180-day requirement for local school districts to receive funding from the state. He says it’s up to local districts to decide to close unless they have a positive case, in which the school must close for 24 hours.

SURINAME: AIRPORT CLOSED
March 13

At 6.30 p.m. on Friday March 13, all airlines operating into Suriname were advised by notice SMJP A0009/20 that the Johan Adolf Pengel International Airport, also known as Paramaribo-Zanderij International Airport Suriname will initially be closed from Saturday March 14 – Saturday March 21, 2020.

During the period of the airport closure, Caribbean Airlines flights will be impacted and affected customers are being contacted. The Government Agencies have indicated that after midnight tonight any flight given approval to operate to Suriname will do so under the following conditions:
 Flight Arrivals will accommodate Surinamese residents only
 Flight Departures will facilitate Non-Surinamese nationals only Passengers expected to travel during these dates are advised to contact Caribbean Airlines reservation offices for rebooking on the next available service.

T&T: TEMPORARY CLOSURE OF SPORT FACILITIES
March 13

The Ministry of Sport and Youth Affairs (MSYA) advises that Sport and Youth Facilities under its remit will remain closed for one week from Saturday 14th March to Sunday 22nd March, 2020. This move is aimed at containing the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
These facilities include:

  1. Indoor Sporting Arenas at Chaguanas, Tacarigua, Maloney, Pleasantville, Point Fortin and St. Paul Street.
  2. Youth Facilities at Malick, Los Bajos, Laventille, California, St. James and Basilon Street.
  3. Facilities under the Ministry’s state enterprise, SporTT, will also remain closed.

    Earlier today, in addressing the Parliament, Prime Minister Dr. the Honourable Keith Rowley stated, “As a nation, we have no choice but to steel ourselves and step up to the demands of the situation.”
    “The Government has advised a number of self-imposed, cautionary measures that will slow down, delay and possibly prevent the spread of the virus. Do not expose yourself unnecessarily through non-essential mass gathering. Limit your exposure to public places,” the Prime Minister cautioned.

T&T: PARIA FUEL ASSURES RELIABLE SUPPLY
March 13

Paria Fuel Trading Company Limited (Paria) wishes to reassure the public that the Company remains well-resourced to provide the country and its customers in the region with a safe and reliable supply of fuel. This assurance is supported by having healthy inventories and contingencies in its supply chain. As COVID-19 (Novel Coronavirus) became prevalent in December 2019, Paria’s Management team proactively developed a Business Continuity Pandemic Plan that focuses on three priorities:

• Priority #1 – Safety of our employees
• Priority #2 – Continued supply of fuel and products to the nation
• Priority #3 – Sustainability of the business and its operations

The Terminal Operations Team continues to liaise with the Port Health Officer on established guidelines on handling of vessels visiting the port to ensure the safety of our employees.
All fuel inventories are continuously monitored, and daily discussions are conducted with our suppliers who have reassured the Company that cargoes are available. Arrangements are confirmed for 5 cargoes to be discharged before the end of month.
The table highlights the Inventory of Products and the expected Volume in Barrels to be received before end March 2020. A further 7 to 10 cargoes will be finalized next week to meet April and May demand. Paria remains focused on its business operations, committed to personal safety, asset security and providing the country and the regional markets with a safe and secure supply of refined fuel.

T&T: 2ND CASE CONFIRMED
March 13

The Ministry of Health has announced a second confirmed case of coronavirus COVID-19.

The following is a statement by the Ministry:

“The Ministry of Health, Trinidad and Tobago, advises of the country’s second confirmed case of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19).

On Friday 13th March, 2020 at 7:44 p.m., the Caribbean Public Health Agency informed Ministry of Health officials of the positive test result. The patient is a 66-year-old male with a recent travel history (less than 14 days ago).

The patient presented at a public health facility on Thursday 12th March 2020. He was immediately attended to in the Accident and Emergency Department and has been isolated.

The relevant County Medical Officer of Health has already initiated contact tracing of persons who have been in close interaction with the patient. All persons who may have been exposed will be quarantined.

All public health measures continue to be strictly adhered to in order to safeguard the health of the Trinidad and Tobago population.

As more information becomes available, the public will be advised, as appropriate.”

T&T: CATHOLIC MASSES TO CONTINUE
March 13

I am aware of the fear and anxiety of all of us surrounding COVID-19. I have also consulted with senior medical experts and listened carefully to what they had to say. Amidst this challenge, let us keep our faith and trust in God so typical of Caribbean peoples while exercising prudential judgement.

Our Holy Father Pope Francis has advised discernment and due discretion with respect to the public celebration of Mass. Because of this, all Masses/Services will continue until further guidelines are given. Religious education classes and other parish gatherings are hereby cancelled.

All vulnerable persons (the elderly, infirmed and anyone with flu symptoms) are strongly urged to fulfil their Sunday obligation by participating in Mass on Trinity TV. Sunday Mass will also be carried on Power 102 FM.

There will be a meeting of the clergy on Monday 16 March to discuss the pastoral care of the faithful of the Archdiocese so that through dialogue and prayer we may discern a way forward.

All large Church gatherings are also to be put on hold pending Monday’s discussion. Our Christian faith demands at this urgent moment we be our brother’s and sister’s keeper. Our hearts go out particularly to the elderly, the most vulnerable group in this pandemic.

In the spirit of Lent, we ask you to offer this sacrifice for the safeguarding of our nation and the healing and protection of our people. We pray and hope that this will be an opportunity for us to deepen and widen the communion we share in the Holy Eucharist.

All Catholic primary and secondary schools will be closed until further notice.

We commend the people of our nation, especially our most vulnerable, to the patronage of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception and Health of the Sick.

JAMAICA: NATIONAL EMERGENCY DECLARED
March 13

Jamaica’s Prime Minister Andrew Holness

Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness has declared the entire island a disaster area. He made the announcement during a press conference at Jamaica House on Friday evening.

The entire communities of Seven Miles and Eight Miles in Bull Bay on the St Andrew/St Thomas border have been placed under quarantine, initially for two weeks, as Jamaica ramps up efforts to contain the spread of the deadly novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

Members of the Jamaica Defence Force and the Jamaica Constabulary Force have been deployed to the area to restrict movement into and out of the communities.

There are eight confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Jamaica including ‘patient zero’, the first confirmed case on the island, who spent time in the Bull Bay communities.

T&T: PNM CANCELS LIBERATION DAY CELEBRATIONS
March 13

The People’s National Movement has also announced the party’s Annual Baptist Liberation Day Celebration originally carded for Saturday 21st March has been cancelled. A walkabout by Political Leader Dr Keith Rowley as well as a national public indoor meeting set for Saturday in Barataria has been cancelled.

T&T: UNC POSTPONES MONDAY NIGHT FORUMS
March 13

The United National Congress has taken a decision to postpone our Monday Night Forums until further notice. All Youth Arm events have also been postponed as well, UNC Public Relations Officer Anita Haynes confirmed.

T&T: PARLIAMENT SUSPENDS CHAMBER TOURS
March 13

Chamber tours of the Red House (Parliament & Senate) have been suspended. The Trinidad and Tobago Parliament made the announcement Friday.

CARIBBEAN: CARIFTA GAMES, CARIBBEAN NETBALL POSTPONED
March 13


The Carifta Games, which was set for April 10-13 was postponed. President of the North American, Central American and Caribbean Athletics Association (NACAC), Mike Sands confirmed yesterday (Friday).

The Caribbean Netball Association also postponed Jean Pierre Under 16 Netball Championship which was to be held March 27 – April 4 in St Vincent and the Grenadines

Atlantic ‘Yes’ Awards (Primary School Champions Awards) which was carded for March 19, was postponed by the company.

T&T: BOROUGH DAY CELEBRATIONS, JAZZ SHOW CANCELLED
March 13

The postponement of the 40th Anniversary of the Point Fortin Borough Day celebrations was announced by Point Fortin Mayor. Events were set to begin from April 11.
Following the announcement, the event Jazz on the Hill hosted by Vaughnette Bigford was also put off. It was set to be held on April 29.

JAMAICA: SIX NEW CASES TAKES TOTAL TO EIGHT
March 13

Jamaica is confirming six new cases of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) on the island.

The cases, which bring to eight the number of confirmed cases, include:

Two males, aged 63 and 67, who came into the island on March 7 from Trinidad, having travelled from Malaysia by way of Dubai and London. They presented themselves at hospital on March 11.

One male, 36, who travelled from Manchester, England. He was taken to hospital from his hotel via ambulance on March 11.

One male, 31, a Jamaican overseas ship worker who came in from the Canary Islands via Portugal and Miami. He arrived in the island on February 25 and presented to hospital with symptoms on March 10.

One male, 58, who is the father of the first patient who was confirmed with COVID-19. He was discovered ill at home on March 11 and

One female, 34, who is a close contact, also of the first patient, who was confirmed with COVID-19 on the island.

The Minister of Health and Wellness Dr Christopher Tufton will meet with the media on Friday afternoon to provide further details. He is currently examining the level of preparedness for COVID-19 in western Jamaica.

T&T: TOBAGO JAZZ EXPERIENCE, GOAT RACES CANCELLED
March 13

The Tobago House of Assembly announced the cancellation of Tobago Jazz Experience 2020 yesterday (Friday 13) as a precautionary measure, given the threat of COVID-19. Tobago Easter Buccoo Goat and Crab Race Festival, set for Easter Tuesday, was also cancelled.

T&T: EVERY LOVES RAYMOND CONCERT CANCELLED
March 13

Everybody Loves Raymond Concert – Centre of Excellence – Saturday 14 March. Cancellation announced by Raymond Ramnarine and his management via social media.

JAMAICA: CARNIVAL POSTPONED
March 13

Jamaica also announced the postponement of its Carnival parade of bands, set to be held on April 19 to October 25. DJ Private Ryan also announced the postponement of Soca Brainwash Jamaica. Caesar’s Army also announced the cancellation of Bacchanal Road Jamaica (April 12) and AM BUSH JA (April 18) in relation to COVID-19 concerns.

T&T: TOBAGO CHAMBER SEEKS URGENT DISCUSSIONS
March 13

Chairman of the Tobago Division of the Trinidad and Tobago Chamber of Industry and Commerce Dianne Hadad is calling on Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley to send a high powered team to Tobago to discuss the way forward in light of COVID-19 developments in the country.Speaking at a news conference held on Friday, Hadad said Tobago is fully dependent on the air and sea bridge for food, drink and other supplies and there is a cause for concern. She said, according to timelines the global impact may last approximately eight months, which would be devastating to the economy in both Trinidad  and Tobago 

T&T: UWI CONFIRMS ONE-WEEK CLOSURE
March 13

– The UWI St. Augustine Campus is guided by today’s announcement by Prime Minister Dr. The Honorable Keith Rowley, that from tomorrow, March 14, 2020 all schools and universities and places of learning will remain closed for one week in order to stop the spread of COVID-19. As such, all classes will be suspended officially from tomorrow until Saturday, March 21.

Campus Operations will be maintained on Monday March 16, and as such, all staff are expected to report to duty to allow for critical planning with their Dean and/ or Head of Department.

Pro Vice-Chancellor and Campus Principal, Professor Brian Copeland thanks all staff and students for their patience at this time as Campus Management continues to monitor all COVID-19 developments.

MARTINIQUE: 4TH CASE CONFIRMED
March 13

 The Martinique Tourism Authority, the Port of Martinique, the Martinique International Airport are closely monitoring the island’s points of entry to prevent the spread of COVID-19, and ensure the safety of its residents and visitors.

As reported by the director of the Regional Health Agency’s (A.R.S.), the island is and remains in Stage 1 of a 3-stage prevention protocol established by the French Government in 2009 following the H1N1 flu epidemic. Stage 1 is prevention and all procedures and protective measures are in place:

 * All disembarking cruise passengers are being systematically screened.  Anchorage, to come ashore for smaller luxury boats, is no longer permitted.  They must go to port terminals to be screened by the Regional Health Agency of Martinique.

Safety protocols are posted and implemented in all marinas and small ports.

* As of Thursday, March 5, 2020, sanitary measures are being enforced by the Regional Health Agency of Martinique with the presence of firefighters.

* Since, February 29, 2020, prevention notices have been posted at the airport and since March 4, airline passengers are given these notices prior to landing

* Additional sanitary inspectors have been positioned at the airport

* Martinique’s main hospital is prepared for any changes in this sanitary crisis, readied isolation units and expanded itS testing capabilities

US: TRUMP DECLARES NATIONAL EMERGENCY
March 13

President Donald Trump announced Friday that he is declaring the coronavirus pandemic a national emergency, as Washington struggles with providing Americans with relief and officials race to slow the spread of the outbreak.

Speaking from the Rose Garden, Trump said, “I am officially declaring a national emergency.” He said the emergency would open up nearly $50 billion for state and local governments to respond to the outbreak.

Trump said he was also giving Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar emergency authorities to waive federal regulations and laws to give doctors and hospitals “flexibility” in treating patients.

He also announced a new public-private partnership to expand coronavirus testing capabilities, as his administration has come under fire for being too slow in making the test available. The partnership will include drive-thru testing in some locations and an online portal to screen those seeking to get tested.

T&T: BANKS URGE REDUCED VISITS
March 13

The Bankers Association of Trinidad and Tobago (BATT) says they have been monitoring the global and regional developments as they relate to the novel Corona Virus (COVID-19) and we will continue to do so with heightened awareness following the announcement of Trinidad & Tobago’s first COVID 19 case.
In a press release today BATT wished to reassure customers that Banks are taking steps to protect its staff and customers, as far as possible, from inadvertently contracting and or spreading the virus, as they access banking services throughout the country.
The Banks have increased their internal cleaning protocol and have made the required sanitary provisions at each bank.
In keeping with the public advisories of the Minister of Health and other health care officials, the standard practices and steps for personal protection are to be observed when accessing banking services, especially if visiting Bank Branches.
BATT takes this opportunity to encourage all banking customers as follows:
· Reduce your in-Branch transactions and make use of your Bank’s digital and electronic channels; as far as possible:
o Bank online or via telephone by contacting your Bank’s Call Center
· Avoid the crowd at the Banking halls – use your Bank’s conveniently located ATMs
· Try as much as possible to use your bank cards and limit cash transactions
· If you have virus symptoms, avoid coming into a Bank Branch
· Utilise the banks’ call centres
· If you must visit a Branch, be sure to avoid physical contact with persons and limit your contact with surfaces within the public spaces.
We encourage our customers as best as possible to limit the time spent within a Branch, by making use of all available electronic banking channels and by speaking to your banking representative before coming into the Branch.
Let’s all work together to protect ourselves, our communities and our country!

T&T: SCHOOLS, UNIVERSITIES CLOSED
March 13

Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley has announced that from Saturday 14 March, 2020 all schools and universities and places of learning will remain close for one week in order to stop the spread of coronavirus. The announcement was made as he addressed the Parliament Friday.

CARIBBEAN: CXC TO DECIDE ON EXAMINATIONS
March 13

The Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC®) takes note of the developments concerning COVID-19 in general, and its impact on the CARICOM region in particular. Accordingly, CXC convened a meeting with representatives from the Ministries of Education to discuss the administration of the regional examinations and the respective National protocols. The Council presented and discussed various scenarios as it relates to the administration of its examinations. The Council will continue to work with the governments of the various territories to arrive at a regional consensus and will update the public accordingly. Rest assured that as the management and staff of the Council continue to monitor the emerging situation, our first priority is the health and well-being of all our stakeholders.

T&T: ALL PERFORMING SPACES CLOSED
March 13

As guided by the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Community Development, Culture and the Arts (MCDCA) is taking all the necessary measures as it adopts a proactive approach to mitigate the risk associated with the spread of COVID-19.  The Ministry of Community Development, Culture and the Arts (MCDCA) has taken the following actions:
1) All performing spaces as well as the National Museum and Art Gallery, will be closed to the public with effect from 3pm, Friday March 13th to 11:59pm, Friday March 20th, 2020 in the first instance. These performing spaces include:

•           The National Academy for the Performing Arts (NAPA),
•           The Southern Academy for the Performing Arts (SAPA),
•           Queen’s Hall
•           The Naparima Bowl

2) All Community Centres, Regional Complexes and Civic Centres will be closed for the aforementioned period of one (1) week in the first instance.
3) The start of the Community Education Programme (CEP) and the Prime Minister’s Best Village Trophy Competition Season will be postponed until further notice.
4) The T&T Music Festival will be postponed with immediate effect.

These decisions have been taken as precautionary measures in light of recent developments with COVID-19 locally, regionally and internationally. The Ministry has also taken all advised precautions as they relate to its staff, and will continue to be guided by the Ministry of Health on further actions as we prioritize the safety of our staff, clients, communities and the public.

T&T: NP ROLLS OUT CONTINGENCY PLAN
March 13

As the country plans to deal with the possible implications of the first confirmed Covid-19 case in Trinidad and Tobago, NP wants to reassure the public that the Company has mobilized its contingency plan to ensure a continuous and reliable supply of fuel.

NP’s focus remains the timely delivery of fuel to our service station network; airports in Trinidad and Tobago; industrial customers including the Port Authority; all hospitals; and the protective services.

T&T: NO ALCOHOL LICENSES FOR TWO MONTHS
March 13

Members of the public are asked to note that regular sessions of all licensing committees, that have been scheduled to be conducted at all licensing districts/Magistrates’ Court locations for the purpose of issuing or renewing licenses, have been adjourned for two months, effective March 13, 2020. Licenses in this notice include Spirit Retailer’s, Wine Retailer’s, Hotel Spirit, Special Hotel, Restaurant, Night Bar, Spirit Grocer’s, Spirit Dealer’s, Wine Merchant’s, Moneylender’s, Pawnbroker’s and Members Club licenses. Members of the Public are further asked to note that the validity of existing licenses has been extended for a period of Sixty Six (66) days from the date of expiration, effective March 13, 2020.

T&T: PTSC BUS WINDOWS TO REMAIN OPEN
March 13

The Public Transport Service Corporation (PTSC) wishes to advise the public that it is taking all necessary steps in ensuring the safety of our commuters and employees as a result of recent news of one (1) confirmed case of COVID- 19 in Trinidad and Tobago. In order to curtail the spread of COVID-19, the PTSC is implementing preventative measures in accordance with the Ministry of Health guidelines to avoid the spread of the said virus onboard its buses and at our terminals and offices. These measures are as follows:

· Ensuring that all PTSC buses are properly sanitised before and after every trip.
· Ensuring that all buses are operated without air- condition. Windows will be opened to allow fresh air to circulate which will significantly reduce the spread of the virus.
· Installing hand sanitiser dispensers at all terminals.
· Ensuring that adequate supplies of soap are available in all washrooms.
· Providing hand sanitiser for all staff.
· Providing gloves for drivers and customer service representatives.
· Discouraging commuters who display flu-like symptoms from boarding our buses.

In this regard, we will continue to track updates issued by the Ministry of Health on developments surrounding COVID-19, ensuring that all safety measures are properly implemented, as we continue to provide a safe and reliable service to the people of Trinidad and Tobago.

T&T: UPCOMING INTERNATIONAL FRIENDLIES CANCELLED
March 13

With the best interest of the safety of players, staff members, officials and fans among all stakeholders The Trinidad and Tobago Football Association and Canada Soccer have taken a decision to cancel the two upcoming international friendlies between both countries scheduled to take place Langford, British Columbia, Canada on March 27th and 31st as the world continues to grapple with the spread of COVID-19.
The TTFA believes that cancelling the matches was the “prudent course of action.”
“Due to the uncertainty of the coronavirus and the impact it is having on countries, major events both sporting and other forms across the globe, we have decided, along with Canada Soccer, to cancel the upcoming international friendlies against Canada which were scheduled for Langford, British Columbia,” said TTFA President William Wallace.
“As major organisations are making difficult and complex health and risk management decisions about hosting or partaking in sporting events which involves travel and and assembly of large crowds it became apparent to us that this was the most prudent course of action,” Wallace stated.
The first of the two matches scheduled for Westhills Stadium was reported to be sold out according to the Canada Soccer Association.

T&T: SWAHA ANNUAL SHOW POSTPONED
March 13

Swaha regretfully wishes to inform the public that its Annual Swaha Show 2020 has been postponed to a date yet to be announced. In light of the confirmed case of COVID-19 in Trinidad and Tobago and the threat of its spread, the board of directors of Swaha has seen this as necessary for the protection of its members, supporters and the national community. We invite concerned persons to please call our offices at 674 – 7384 for more information. Swaha regrets any inconveniences to our supporters caused by this turn of events and we remain committed to actions that serve the best interest of the wider society.

T&T: MUSLIMS WILLING TO ASSIST IN CORONAVIRUS FIGHT
March 12

The Muslim community says it is willing to assist with the coronavirus fight in this country, following a meeting of the major groups in the Ummah T&T Muslim Federation, last night.

Federation chairman, Imam Rasheed Karim, told Guardian Media today that one of the first things they intend to do is host a medical clinic on Sunday 29 March 2020, for the general public.

“The general public—especially women—will be able to access testing for the coronavirus, as well as for diabetes, hypertension and other illnesses,” the Imam told us, “at the Medical Clinic we’re hosting at the Felicity Diplomatic Centre on that day. All men, women and children who come will be tested.”

Imam Karim said the Muslim Community will soon issue proper fatwahs (laws) which will guide Muslims as to how they should operate during this period of concern over COVID-19 in T&T, once they get the necessary information from the authorities.

“According to hadiths from The Prophet, if there is a disease in your community, you should not leave it for fear of spreading that disease to others,” he explains. “Also, if you know there is a disease in a community, you should not enter that community.”

T&T: PHAGWA CELEBRATIONS CANCELLED
March 12

Phagwa celebrations across the country have been cancelled in light of confirmation yesterday that Trinidad and Tobago has its first COVID-19 case.

Less than an hour after Health Minister, Terrence Deyalsingh, made the announcement, several notices were sent out advising that the popular Hindu festival will no longer be celebrated.

The Sanatan Dharma Maha Sabha board was one such organization to take this decision.

According to its notice, Phagwa celebrations at all of its schools will no longer be held.

However, the board noted that there will be normal school tomorrow.

Also heeding the Health Minister’s advice to reconsider mass-gatherings was the Couva Mandir.

In a statement, it advised that its Phagwa celebrations carded for Sunday has been cancelled.

Referred to as “The Festival of Colour,” a colourful liquid (abeer) and powder is smeared on people in celebration of Spring.

T&T: FIRST CORONAVIRUS CASE
March 12

Minister of Health Terrance Deyalsingh has confirmed the first case of coronavirus COVID-19 in Trinidad and Tobago.

The announcement was made at a news conference at the Ministry of Health that began at 4.15 pm today.

“At 2.45 pm today we got confirmation of our first case of coronavirus from CARPHA,” Minister Deyalsingh said.

He identified the person as a 52-year-old male who flew into the country from Switzerland on Monday. He said the person has been in self-isolation. However, he added that he will be transferred to the Caura Hospital.

The minister said the person contacted their healthcare professional on Wednesday and CARPHA today contacted him and said, “we have our first case of COVID-19.”

The minister said the family is in isolation and that contact tracing began on Wednesday.

“It is a mild case,” he said.

The announcement came one day after a 52-year-old woman died in Guyana from the virus. St Vincent and the Grenadines also announced its first case yesterday and Jamaica also announced its second case.

As of this morning, just over 50 people were tested for coronavirus in T&T.

Earlier today, Caribbean Airlines advised that a passenger who travelled on March 07, 2020, on BW 521 from John F. Kennedy, International Airport, New York to Piarco International Airport, Trinidad in transit (on the same day) to BW 526 from Piarco International to Cheddi Jagan International Airport, Guyana subsequently tested positive for COVID19 at a public health facility in Guyana.

“Caribbean Airlines assures all stakeholders that the safety, security and good health of its customers and employees is its highest priority and when the information on the passenger was received, immediate action was taken,” the statement said.

It added: “In accordance with established protocols the Public Health Authorities have advised that as a precaution, the thirteen (13) crew members associated with the flights be placed on self-quarantine for a period of fourteen (14) days. This was done, and the employees will be assessed and monitored by the Public Health Authorities in keeping with the directives from the Ministry of Health.”

The airline said that Public Health Authorities are also contacting all persons who may possibly have been affected.

It said the company’s aircraft are cleaned daily at all ports in keeping with industry standards.

CAL said that further, in this instance additional sanitization processes were used as outlined by the regulatory authorities.

“The airline remains in close contact with the Public Health Authorities and its operations team has activated contingencies for any impact on its flights,” CAL said, adding, “Caribbean Airlines assures all stakeholders that it continues to actively monitor and respond to the evolving COVID 19 issue to ensure the safety and good health of its customers and employees.”

The global death toll from COVID-19 exceeds 4,600.

T&T: COVID-19 FEARS TRIGGER PANIC BUYING
March 12

Scores of concerned people flocked to retail and wholesale outlets today to pick up critical cleaning supplies.

This occurred in light of more cases of Coronavirus and a death being recorded in the region.

As more customers arrived the lines grew longer and stretched down the aisles.

Businesses such as PriceMart, Massy Stores and Pennywise saw stocks flying off the shelves very quickly.

In the case of PriceMart, in particular, a limit of 3 units of certain items was implemented.

In addition to products like Lysol and hand sanitizer, customers also picked up other essential household items like toilet paper.

GRENADA: UNIVERSITY TELLS STUDENTS STAY AT HOME
March 11

St. George’s University in Grenada has advised all its students to return home for the next month as a precautionary measure to protect staff and students from COVID-19.

In a statement addressed to students and published online, the university said it was considering the possible implications of the global outbreak on its campus community.

The university said it is encouraging its students at the Grenada campus to return for home “for at least the next four weeks.”

It said it arrived at the decision after working with the island’s Ministry of Health and international partners, in an effort to limit exposure to the disease among students and staff.

St. George’s University said its campus will remain open and will make facilities available for students who are unable to leave Grenada or choose not to.

GUYANA: FIRST CASE IS FATAL
March 11

Guyana’s President David Granger has announced that the country has it’s first case of coronavirus COVID-19 and it is a fatality.

The following is a statement by the prime minister:

“Guyanese, it is my sad duty to announce Guyana confirmed its first imported case of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) in Georgetown on Wednesday 11th March 2020.

The patient has been identified as a 52-year-old Guyanese female who had travelled from the United States of America, which has reported cases of COVID-19. She arrived in the country on 5th March, presented to the public health system on 10th March and was found to have uncontrolled Diabetes and Hypertension. She subsequently died at the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation at 08:00 hours on 11th March.

Health professionals sought to conduct tests for COVID-19 based on the patient’s travel history. A clinical sample was collected and sent at 10:00 hours on 11th March 2020 to the National Reference Laboratory, where laboratory test confirmed the diagnosis at approximately 17:00 hours. The patient’s infection is classified an imported case.