Most of the population turned to their televisions on Saturday with a sense of unease as they waited for the Prime Minister to address the country on new lockdown measures to stop the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

It was widely believed that Dr Keith Rowley would be announcing stricter lockdown measures. But during a press conference at the Diplomatic Centre in St Ann’s, Rowley said there was no scientific data to suggest any more measures should be implemented at this time.

He said the system which has seen restrictions for public gatherings, the cessation of in-house dining and the closure of beaches and rivers, among other measures, is working. Those measures were put into effect for a 28-day period on August 17. Rowley said they will continue for the remaining 14 days of the original 28-day time-frame.

“I’ve been hearing that many people expect us to make significant adjustments, I want to tell you that there is no scientific data which requires us to make any more drastic arrangements,” Rowley said.

He warned the population not to give in to misinformation and to follow the public health guidelines.

“I simply want to say to the national community: Our system is working and we should not allow misinformation, panic or unreasonable conduct to allow us to be unable to coexist with a virus that is becoming better and better known.”

He said the battle was now about balancing life and livelihoods.

He slammed those who continue to flout the guidelines, saying he had recently been invited to a party.

“I myself got an invitation to a party, if you come early it’s $50 and a lot of nice girls and if you come late it’s $100. I passed that to the police and I hope the police would have attended that party and lock up everybody who was there because I am just fed up of people playing the fool when we are talking about lives and livelihoods, those who have to party, then we have to police them,” he said.

“I know it makes news to report that somebody in a workplace has tested positive but we can’t really go on panic living because somebody hears that somebody had COVID because we are doing two things, there is life and there is livelihood. We are trying to preserve life by all the things we are doing to prevent the spread of the virus but in parallel, with a managed component of risk, we are keeping livelihoods going.”

He said businesses should not be shut down “as a fashion” but only when it is required by the public health guidelines.

Rowley said the public service will operate at 50 per cent with staff being physically present on a rotation system. He said this was being done so that in the event one member of staff from any rotation tests positive and there is a risk of that person infecting their co-workers, there will be staff to replace them. He warned public service employees though that they would be required to work from home and will not be on vacation.

He said maxi taxis will be allowed to operate at 65 per cent capacity, while taxis are now allowed to carry one passenger per window as they ply their trades.

Latest COVID statistics

As of 6 pm yesterday, there were 962 active cases of COVID-19, bringing the total number of positive cases to 1,645.

According to the Ministry of Health’s daily 10 am update, 23 more people tested positive for the virus- from samples taken from August 21 to 28.

In the 6 pm update, 68 more cases were announced, this time from samples taken from the period August 23 to August 29.

Speaking at a press conference at the Diplomatic Centre in St Ann’s on Saturday, Chief Medical Officer Dr Roshan Parasram said there were six people in the Intensive Care Unit at the Couva Hospital and ten people in the High Dependency Unit at Couva.

Parasram said the number of people discharged–which now stands at 664–refers to those who have recovered from the virus.

He said “recovered” and “discharged” are used interchangeably in the Ministry’s releases.