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Opposition leader Kamla Persad-Bissesar speaks to members of the media following the ceremonial opening the 12th Republican Parliament Port-of-Spain yesterday.

Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar is condemning Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley’s decision not to institute new measures against the spread of COVID-19 as he addressed a media conference Saturday.

She has urged Government to immediately embark on an urgent and national consultation with the Opposition, business, labour and social sector stakeholders.

“Such talks would assist in ensuring that there is a proper and workable national plan in place to deal with the harmful medical, economic and social fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic,” Persad-Bissessar said in a release issued yesterday.

Pleading with Government to move expeditiously to ramp up COVID-19 testing kits and properly secure the borders from the influx of illegal visitors who are being linked to the local community spread of the virus, Persad-Bissessar said apart from legally mandating citizens to wear masks in public, “the Government is worryingly continuing its dangerous trend of failing to adequately respond to the deadly pandemic in a timely and effective manner.”

This trend, she said, can result in more medical, social and economic instability in our battered nation.

“We therefore repeat our longstanding mantra for the Government to immediately procure rapid testing kits so that we can genuinely get a real idea of the levels of community spread.”

Persad-Bissessar said at Saturday’s press conference hosted by Rowley, the PM “offered no new measures to combat the deadly crisis despite the alarming increase in COVID-19 positive cases among the length and breadth of T&T.”

Yesterday’s Ministry of Health morning update showed there were two additional deaths, taking the figure to 21, while 1,683 people had been tested positive so far.

Rowley, however, promised to meet with the National Security Ministry this week to discuss the repatriation of citizens.

There are 2,000 T&T nationals stranded abroad since the country closed its borders on March 22.

Persad-Bissessar said while the Opposition supported legislation to make wearing of masks mandatory, the Government should engage in similar, aggressive and practical initiatives “to combat the COVID-19 spread.”

Persad-Bissessar also slammed Rowley’s administration for their delay in the distribution of grants and failing to address growing unemployment.

People who applied months ago for salary grants, she said are still awaiting their cheques, while more businesses continue to close their doors.

“The Government has yet not put forward any plan to create sustainable jobs.”

To stem the spread of the virus, Persad-Bissessar proposed Government swiftly establish a COVID-19 intelligence unit to execute strategic plans and operate in unison, immediately secure 100,000 rapid tests kits, deploy health officers to ensure COVID-19 regulations compliance by businesses and the public, stock up on PPEs for frontline health care workers, increase bed spaces, ventilators and medical equipment at public health institutions.