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Stuart Young, Minister of National Security and Minister in the Office of the Prime Minister.

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National Security Minister Stuart Young says the repatriation of T&T nationals stranded abroad will continue but with a lot more caution than before now that the number of active COVID-19 cases have surpassed 1,000.

The total number of COVID-19 cases reached 1,252 yesterday, with 1,059 being active cases with the parallel health system.

Noting that consultation with the Ministry of Health was now critical going forward, Young said, “Due to the recent increased numbers of positive COVID cases in Trinidad and Tobago, the Ministry of Health began using some of the facilities that were previously being used for state quarantine. This factor, as well as the numbers of persons being cared for in the parallel health care system, meant that we have had to be cautious with repatriation numbers,” Young told Guardian Media in a WhatsApp response to queries.

However, he indicated that several citizens who had received exemptions previously are expected to return this weekend.

“We have been working with CAL to manage a repatriation flight this Saturday of over 100 nationals from the USA and on Sunday there will be a number of nationals returning from the UK and Europe,” Young said.

Young said they have also discussed adding further quarantine facilities with the Ministry of Health.

The minister has the sole power to grant exemptions for nationals seeking to return to the country following the border closure since the first phase of the pandemic in March. The process is a balancing act, where the number of spaces available within the parallel system is taken into consideration since all returning nationals are subject to a mandatory 14-day quarantine period in either a state-run or state-supervised facility.