ANNA-LISA PAUL

Although COVID-19 vaccines have been made available abroad, Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh says people returning to T&T are still required to do a negative Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test and undergo quarantine. He said the policy position regardless of an individual’s immunisation status has not been changed.

As is the process currently, it is mandatory for people wanting to return that they produce a negative PCR test 72 hours before arriving in T&T.

Speaking during the Ministry of Health’s media briefing on Saturday, Deyalsingh said the conversation about the safety and efficacy of vaccines began approximately one month ago.

He said, “What we are doing in more detail now is that we are starting the process of doing focus groups to find out what do Trinidadians think about vaccines, where are they getting their information from?

“Those focus groups would start around now and continue into January. That will inform us as to how to mount the educational campaign.” He said it would help to shape how they addressed concerns by anti-vaxxers.

Claiming a comprehensive strategic plan had been developed and submitted to the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO) last week, the minister said focus groups would include religious leaders, business leaders, and politicians.

Questioned as to what form of proof citizens would be presented with that they had been vaccinated, Deyalsingh explained, “We already have a draft of a certificate which we submitted to PAHO and they have basically signed off on it. It is going to be a separate vaccination record for COVID-19.”

He said countries requiring an “immunisation passport” from people before entry would request this.

That question has not yet been addressed in relation to entry into T&T as he said a concrete policy was still to be developed.

Pressed to say if non-nationals would be eligible to receive the vaccine, Deyalsingh said, “The vaccines will be made available to every human being in T&T under Government policy.”

Yesterday’s 4 pm clinical update revealed a total of 425 active cases; 123 deaths; 19 new cases between 4 pm on Friday and 4 pm yesterday; and 26 hospitalised.