President Paula-Mae Weekes issues the following statement on Tuesday:

Fellow citizens, Trinidad and Tobago and indeed the world is facing a grave health crisis. The medical experts and government have pronounced and the media is doing its part to get the message out. It is now for us to do our part and exercise rigid social responsibility. I appeal to you to remain calm, now is not the time for criticisms and recriminations. Together, we must focus on what needs to be done to get as many of us through this as safely as possible. We’ll resume the river limes, the church services, the bar scene and feting when the crisis is over but as it is likely to get worse before it gets better, we need to hold strain.

I urge you to follow the guidelines set out by the Ministry of Health. Wash your hands, frequently and thoroughly. Resist the urge to touch your face, especially after touching unsanitised surfaces. When greeting friends and acquaintances, do not shake hands, hug or kiss. Avoid gatherings of more than 25 where the potential for spreading the virus multiplies exponentially. For those of us not in the high-risk categories, consider that we are likely to be in physical contact with someone who is – a family member, a colleague, a fellow passenger. Please observe the advice as if your life depended on it. Someone’s does.

I take this opportunity to thank our medical personnel, at the frontlines of this fight, for their service and dedication.

The faithful will be moved to prayer – hopefully while practicing social distancing – and there is power in that, but whatever your belief, empathy is paramount. Be kind, be compassionate. Where you can, assist – an elderly neighbour unable to visit the grocery or pharmacy, the disadvantaged lacking the wherewithal to access necessary supplies – and remember, all of us are our brothers and sisters keeper.