Reinforcing the mantra of stay home to stay safe, Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh has warned that a sense of complacency and relaxing of the COVID-19 restrictions at this time could prove to be deadlier for T&T as the virus continues to lurk among the population.
Appealing to the public to continue adhering to social distancing protocols and follow advice to stay indoors unless venturing out for essential supplies, the minister stressed, “These are unusual times. We have won nothing. The virus is lurking amongst us, probing our defences and at the first sight of weakness in our defences, the virus will strike again, and we will have to start over.”
As a parent of two children and two in-laws – three of whom work in the medical field, Deyalsingh said he too had been experiencing the same level of anxiety and fear that, “They are going to be placed in jeopardy, not by genuinely ill people but by people who continue to flout the regulations to stay home.”
Claiming the world had changed more in the past four months than in the past 400 years, Deyalsingh said, “We must learn from the errors of others.”
He cautioned, “Do not misinterpret the data to mean we are in the clear.”
Referring to the scarcity of medical supplies globally which has resulted in professionals having to improvise and even re-use equipment, Deyalsingh said T&T was not there yet.
He expressed heightened concern over the police interception of 5, 525 vehicles on April 17, as he said the explanations given to officials were, “Contrary to saving lives.”
He further described a report that a private school intended to reopen from Monday, as wanton carelessness and a signal that some sectors of society was still not getting the message.
Deyalsingh urged citizens not to take T&T’s current status for granted as he said 69 ventilators had been specially dedicated to the treatment of COVID-19, as he said some countries were without while others were treating two persons on one ventilator.
He said, “If what is playing out in the national community as reflected by these headlines in the newspapers continue, I fear for what will happen to T&T.”
Pressed to say if stronger measures could be adopted to force persons to remain at home, Deyalsingh said, “The way it was done yesterday (Friday) raises a clear and present danger to T&T.”
Commending the TTPS for the tactics employed, the minister went on, “Going to sell a dog and meet your boyfriend are not essential trips outside of your house.”
“The Minister of National Security and I monitor the situation on an hourly basis, and if we detect that something else has to be done, we will make the necessary recommendations.”
Meanwhile, Police Commissioner Gary Griffith has indicated he has a few options in his back pocket which he is not afraid to use in order to compel persons further to remain at home.
Critical of the frivolous reasons the TTPS would have been presented with on Friday after stopping close to 10,000 persons traversing the nation’s roads – Griffith said, “If you are in your car, it means you are going somewhere and 99 per cent of the time, you are going to come out.”
Advising those insistent on breaking the law that they could end up being inconvenienced for hours in a road-block and even being thoroughly questioned by the police, Griffith repeated, “If you are not an employee of an essential business and you are not going to utilise an essential good or service, stay home to avoid all complications.”
Asked if the TTPS could charge persons for breaching amendments to the Public Health Ordinance in this regard, Griffith warned, “I have many options in my back pocket.”
He assured while the TTPS will not abuse their authority in any way, “I will use the options available to me if I have to.”
Reporter: Anna-Lisa Paul