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Rayann Mitchell and her mother Dian (not in picture) look at Prime Minister Keith Rowley press conference from her home in San Fernando, yesterday.

Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley confirmed he’s been tested for COVID-19 and the test result was negative. He gave the confirmation at yesterday’s media briefing updating the country on the COVID-19 situation.

“Yes, I’ve had my test done at the appropriate time and not been deemed to be positive. (The test) was said to be negative. I’ve also kept a very low contact level for 14 to 28 days … as I want to be here to serve you and I’m not taking any chances,” Rowley said.

However, the Prime Minister said today he has to be in Tobago for his eldest brother’s funeral and may stay a few days. His brother Mathias Joseph, 81, died last Friday at Scarborough General Hospital.

Rowley said, “I’m moving from here (Trinidad) to there (Tobago) very quickly. I’ll be in a funeral that allows only five people.”

The latter reference was to the fact that Government’s latest COVID-19 contingency this week was to reduce the number of people allowed to gather from 10 to five.

Rowley mused, “How does one conduct a parting with five people from a very large family? It’s not nice.”

He said he was aware of issues like virus outbreaks since he was 12 years and his grandfather had told him about the effect of a flu outbreak of 1918 on Tobago. He said thankfully, T&T’s not at that stage where a huge number of coffins are needed.

The PM said he felt a chill looking at world media reports of an army convoy going to an Italian town to remove the dead and of reports of 24 dead in a New York hospital.

Rowley also said his younger daughter Sonel, who’s on staff at Columbia University, New York, is working from home and following authorities’ instructions.

“I must admit, while I manage T&T’s affairs, every hour I think of my daughter and New York. There’s a lot to be learned by following elsewhere and we hope to improve our management of systems (regarding COVID- 19).”

He said the Government’s also in touch with T&T’s overseas missions which all have “battened down the hatches.” He said the New York area where Penelope Beckles (Ambassador to the United Nations) lived was among the first to fall under restrictions.

Despite all the desensitising new of the virus worldwide, Rowley said the Cabinet has been functioning.

“I draw my strength from the people of T&T. I see so many good aspects of how we’re coping,” Rowley added, bestowing high praise on Chief Medical officer Dr Roshan Parasram and his team on how the issue has been handled.