Dr Joel Teelucksingh

Bavita Gopaulchan

Two medical experts believe Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley’s hesitation to reopen rivers and ponds as well as resume in-house dining at restaurants and bars may be warranted.

Following the announcement last Saturday, several citizens took to social media to question the prime minister’s logic on some of the COVID-19 measures which have been relaxed.

However, virologist Dr Christopher Oura noted there is a difference between beaches, rivers and ponds.

“If you have a larger space like a beach where people can separate out and keep apart from people when they are outside then there is a less chance the virus will spread from person to person as opposed to a more cramped river or lime-type area where people may be forced to be closer to each other,” Dr Oura said.

Dr Oura added there is the same concern for cinemas which have been allowed to reopen but cannot sell food and drinks to patrons.

“There is a higher risk when you are inside so it is important for places like cinemas when they are opened to try and maintain that distance though and mask-wearing,” he said.

Apart from physical distancing, Internal Medicine Specialist Dr Joel Teelucksingh believes there is another important factor taken into consideration in withholding the resumption of in-house dining at bars and restaurants.

According to Dr Teelucksingh, “To drink and eat will involve the removal of the face masks and, of course, if you are practising social distancing, using scrupulous basic hygiene like handwashing and so forth then this will reduce the risk of transmission but the fact is these mitigation strategies must occur synergistically”.

“What we know about the modes of transmission of the novel virus is that it tends to affect persons in a closed, crowded contact setting especially in places with poor ventilation”, Dr Teelucksingh stated.

“And we are not sure exactly about the health and safety measures that would have been put in place at some of these places so I can understand that if you remove your face mask that the chance of transmission has increased if you are going to eat and drink”, he added.

Both Dr Teelucksingh and Dr Oura noted that while they have their reservations about reopening the country right now, as the battle continues against community spread of the virus, they believe if citizens do their part then there will be more good news when Dr Rowley gives his next update in two weeks.