Citizens stocking up on essentials at Price Smart, Chaguanas, on Thursday 12 March 2020.

Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley yesterday appealed to people not engage in panic buying, since this would create shortages.

He also appealed against the spread of false information on COVID-19. He said a US Congressional delegation that was due in T&T next Wednesday was postponed. Rowley noted US President Donald Trump had suspended all flights to the US from Europe, save for the UK, from last night.

He said Government has initiated an analysis of the short term economic impact of the COVID-19 issue with recommendations for Government actions. This will be accompanied by a study on the longer-term effects on T&T’s economy. He said he’d recently pointed out that what T&T was facing “…wasn’t just a health issue but if it plays out as it portends, then there will be very serious economic exposures for T&T.”

“Unfortunately, exactly that outcome has now come to pass and the effects are upon us. As a nation, we have no choice but to steel ourselves and step up to the demands of the situation.”

He said China had to cut back significantly on consumption and manufacturing.

“This affected amongst other things, oil and gas commodities and their prices. The demand for LNG and Methanol were two directly affected commodities both of which make up the mainstay of T&T’s energy industry products, with consequential effects on our revenue.”

He said Health and National Security also turned away at least two cruise ships from Trinidad “because there was evidence to suggest that persons on board weren’t well.”