Opposition Leader repeats calls for more COVID-19 testing

Opposition Leader, Kamla Persad-Bissessar SC, has once again called on the Government to ramp up COVID-19 testing in this country.

The renewed call comes as T&T recorded its first COVID-19 death, as well as Government’s move to shut-down all non-essential activities for 14-days, from midnight on Sunday.

In an official statement issued this afternoon, Mrs Persad-Bissessar said she was happy Government had intensified the restriction of movement in the country. She also reiterated the need for more COVID-19 testing to be conducted on the population.

The full text of the Opposition Leader’s statement, follows…

STATEMENT OF OPPOSITION LEADER THE HONOURABLE KAMLA PERSAD-BISSESSAR, SC, ON PNM GOVERNMENT’S COVID-19 NATIONAL SHUTDOWN

A day after I informed this country that we had recorded the first official death of the Coronavirus pandemic, I am pleased that Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley has heeded my call for a 14-day shutdown of the non-essential services of this country, which he announced at today’s post Cabinet news conference.

He in fact had no choice but to take my advice for once at this stage, because his Government’s willful and dangerous mismanagement of this unprecedented and destructive Coronavirus pandemic has in fact worsened the economic, social and especially the health crisis in our country.

This is a direct consequence of the ongoing efforts by the Rowley Government to continue hiding the true statistics of Covid-19 infections among the population of Trinidad and Tobago.

This deliberate and reckless endangerment of the lives of every single citizen in this country must be roundly condemned by every right-thinking individual.

I now also call on the PNM Government, and specifically the Health Minister, to come clean as to why have they only done 400 Covid-19 tests in the past month, despite the UNC calling for testing, since it is proven that early detection prevents the spread of Coronavirus.

The Health Minister and his Cabinet colleagues must also explain why they chose to suppress the very crucial information of the first official Covid-19 death at their news conference yesterday, despite their false promise to be transparent and accountable to the public on every issue concerning the Coronavirus pandemic in our country.

I further call on the Rowley Government to ensure that they adequately, effectively, properly and competently inform all citizens as to the exact and precise details of this “shutdown initiative”, since failure to inform them of these new measures can lead to them unwittingly violating the law.

I also call on the Government to increase police patrols in all areas, to ensure the safety of citizens’ private properties and businesses during this lockdown period.

The fact that the Rowley Government has finally taken my suggestion is proof that they remain at a complete loss as to how to effectively combat the destructive Coronavirus crisis in our country.

From the outset, the PNM Ministers were unprepared and unwilling to deal with it, having blatantly refused the UNC’s efforts in Parliament on THREE occasions since January 2020 to have the matter discussed as one of urgent public importance.

In addition, their own Ministers and Prime Minister conscientiously ignored the numerous travel restrictions and warnings, and chose to engage in expensive and questionable foreign travel during the period of the uncontrollable global spread of Covid-19. Prime Minister Rowley further refused to self-quarantine for the mandatory 14-day period upon returning to Trinidad.

The Opposition UNC represents over half of the 1.3 million population of Trinidad and Tobago as MPs of 18 constituencies and control of seven Regional Corporations. We therefore have a legal right to ensure that our country’s resources are used to protect all our citizens in a time of such unprecedented crisis.

Yet, despite our best efforts to do so, the PNM Government bluntly refused every single offer by the UNC to assist and effectively work together to battle this frightening crisis in the interest of the population’s health and safety.

I sincerely hope that this destructive behaviour on the part of the Rowley Government can now be stopped, given that we have reached such a critical stage of the Coronavirus crisis.

I urge all citizens to please heed every single precaution and legislative measure implemented thus far by the State, to avoid contracting Covid-19, and to prevent its spread. Please stay at home, respect the quarantine and new restrictions on your movement and safeguard your health and that of your families at all costs.

Kamla Persad-Bissessar, SC, MP

Leader of the Opposition