Citizens stocking up on essentials at Price Smart, Chaguanas, on Thursday 12 March 2020. (Image: SHASTRI BOODAN)

One medical professional is reminding citizens there is no need for panic buying at this point in time, now that this country has recorded its first case of COVID-19.

And Dr Visham Bhimull, of the Trinidad and Tobago Medical Association, has added his voice to those calling for the public to remain calm.

The health care professional points out that panic buying means crowds of people in a confined space, for a period of time long enough, for any infected person there to spread the virus.

Dr Visham Bhimull urges citizens to follow all the preventative measures advised by the health authorities, to reduce their COVID-19 risk (Image: DR VISHNU BHIMULL, Twitter)

And he observes that not everyone who presents with flu-like symptoms at this point in time will be COVID-19 positive, since this is the time of year when T&T has its post-Carnival flu season.

Dr Visham Bhimull urges citizens to follow all the preventative measures advised by the health authorities, to reduce their COVID-19 risk, especially the conscientious washing of hands; exercising good coughing and sneezing etiquette; and implementing social distancing.

“Wear a mask if you think you have the common cold or even influenza,” he advises. “Make sure you have healthy habits. Drink plenty of fluids, exercise and eat healthy, especially fruits and vegetables high in Vitamin-C. And try not to interact with anybody who might have the cold.”

Yesterday, several local Hindu organisations issued statements announcing the cancelling of Phagwa celebrations this weekend.

Other local organisations also have begun to announce cancellation of their events.

Dr Bhimull says this is a responsible move, given that mass gatherings increase the likelihood of COVID-19 spreading rapidly through the population, should there be persons in those crowds who are positive for the disease.

“Remember it’s a novel virus, so that the human population in general is not yet immune to it,” he explains. “As such, it will spread really quickly. Despite whatever public measures we would have, it would spread quickly, as it has.”

Dr Bhimull is reminding vulnerable groups, namely the elderly and the immuno-compromised, to be extra-vigilant during this period, and take care of their health.

He also advises citizens who are presenting with flu-like symptoms that while there is a great likelihood they may not have COVID-19, they should still contact the health authorities, to confirm their coronavirus status.

Citizens stocking up on essentials at Price Smart, Chaguanas, on Thursday 12 March 2020. (Image: SHASTRI BOODAN)