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Minister of Health Terrence Deyalsingh..

SHARLENE RAMPERSAD

Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh is advising citizens to continue to practice personal hygiene and wear face masks as he says the World Health Organisation (WHO) believes the world is still in the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Speaking at the Ministry of Health virtual media briefing, Deyalsingh said while T&T has no new positive COVID-19 cases, the global numbers have risen to 5.7 million cases.

He said while the Government cannot legislate the wearing of masks and practising of personal hygiene, it continues to use strong moral suasion to urge the public to comply.

Deyalsingh said there are currently 85 nationals in quarantine, five at the Cascadia Hotel, 21 at the Tacarigua Racket Centre and 59 at the University of the West Indies Debe campus.

That number is expected to go up over the next few weeks as the Ministry of National Security grants exemptions to nationals to return home.

Also speaking the briefing, National Security Minister Stuart Young gave an assurance to the thousands of nationals who remain stuck around the world that they will be allowed to return home.

“All nationals who are not in T&T and want to return, you will be permitted to return, as we’ve said and as I will repeat here this morning, what we are doing is very carefully managing the process and believe you me, we do understand the difficulties that each and every one of you nationals face who are outside of T&T wanting to return as well as your families and what it is you are going through,” Young said.

He said while the ministry is granting exemptions, it cannot allow those nationals who have the means to charter their own flights to take precedence over less fortunate citizens.

“From a fairness point of view, that can’t be the test at this stage because someone says they can charter a plane to fly in will get precedence over someone who is a more needy case.”

He said the exemptions are being managed in a way that does cause the health care system to be overwhelmed.