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Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar

Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar has called for the immediate implementation of enhanced health and safety protocols at all businesses and government offices so that they and the wider economy can be reopened. This she explained is in a bid to ensure citizens are back to work and can provide for themselves and their loved ones.

The Opposition Leader also proposed assistance from UNC experts to help government in formulatig a plan to re-open the country.

Here is the full statement below:

Think about the poor in our society, they are suffering, their lives matter too! Many are having great difficulty in providing for themselves and their loved ones.

Decisions on the reopening of businesses and the wider economy must be put forward. I agree that we cannot be reckless with citizens’ physical and mental health, but the country must know what the short and medium-term plans of the government are. The only persons reasonably comfortable in the current situation are persons who can still collect their salaries. What about those who had nothing to eat this morning?

We all need the pertinent data to make informed decisions:

1. How many PERSONS over the past THREE MONTHS (not samples) have been tested for Covid-19?

2. When will testing outside of CARPHA begin?

3. What is the target number of UNIQUE tests to be done before they can advise on the date for businesses to reopen?

The Minister of Health sits at press conferences every day, for weeks, and refuses to tell the population how many persons have been tested. If he does not know this basic answer, how can the population have any confidence in anything he says? The fact is that the number is still in the hundreds of persons after three months. It seems he is buying time to make a big announcement when it crosses the 1000 mark.

The photos of step-down facilities being posted by the Government are totally different from what quarantined persons have endured.

They have been housed in dumps and disgusting conditions. At least they will be able to leave after quarantine, I pray for the healthcare workers who must continue working in these horrible conditions.

There is currently inadequate testing being done, and no one can tell us when testing will increase. Yet, we need this information to make decisions regarding the length of the shutdown. We are in a stalemate.

The question that arises is this: without adequate testing, what is the scientific data they are using to determine their decisions? It seems to be part guesswork and part copy and paste from foreign states.

We must think for ourselves and stop waiting to copy what other countries do while our citizens suffer.

I am suggesting that we immediately implement enhanced health, hygiene, sanitation and occupational safety protocols at all places of business and government offices so that they and the wider economy can be reopened without endangering people’s health when the shutdown is over.

The UNC has many persons who have expertise in these practices and are willing to assist.

Most of these protocols and practices are already in place in the industrial sector in our country.

We have the expertise and personnel to transfer these systems to other sectors.

The protocols and infrastructure can be put in place immediately so we can reopen the economy sooner rather than later.

We can couple this with staggered working hours for different sectors, continue social distancing measures and limit recreational activities to an acceptable minimum.

The UNC also has an economic transformation plan which we rolled out since the last Budget, which I urge the government to look at. I invite anyone with ideas and plans to put them forward, as no single entity has all the answers, but as a people, we have the ability to move forward without waiting to copy other countries.

We must determine the way forward through logic and innovation and not through fear and indecision. The most vulnerable in our country need us now, they cannot depend on Government assistance that may never come. Thank you to all the citizens who have stepped forward and assisted.