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A soldier keeps guard over the Enchanment of the Seas after its arrival at the International waterfront in Port-of-Spain last Friday. The vessel is serving as a floating quarantine unit for the 300-plus nationals who work on various cruise lines abroad.

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Although six repatriated cruise ship workers tested positive for COVID-19 over the weekend, this is not likely to disrupt the ongoing quarantine of the other 300 nationals on board the Enchantment of Seas off T&T’s coast.

Chief Medical Officer Dr Roshan Parasram made the comment yesterday as he confirmed that the six workers were said to be mostly asymptomatic and as such this was unlikely to have compromised the ship’s ability to be a quarantine facility.

“It would have been not used for any passengers for a quite a long period of time, all the persons would have been put on board so it would have been decontaminated prior to bringing those people on board. Hence, we would have done the initial test and got individuals who were positive off quickly,” Parasram said during the Ministry of Health’s press conference.

“I think given the fact that we would have got a fairly low number, six out of 305 are positives, we will continue to monitor over the next couple of days to determine basically if we get any persons with symptoms and as things evolve we will continue to make decisions on a continuous basis to see if we need to get any other individuals off.”

Minister of Health Terrence Deyalsingh, utilising a schematic of the vessel to further explain the point, said the size of the vessel also allowed the quarantine to continue on the cruise ship.

He, however, said they would look into images that appeared to depict the nationals on board being placed in neighbouring cabins. This, he said, was not in keeping with what was put in place for the quarantine.

Parasram said there are still awaiting 103 results from the batch of University of the West Indies students who returned from the Mona campus and the nationals who arrived from Venezuela over the weekend.

He said despite several questions about the capacity of the parallel health system, the country could handle the unlikely outcome that all these tests return positive.

“We don’t expect that 103, well all of them, all of the 103 would become positive. It is highly unlikely,” Parasram said.

“However, the parallel system does have enough space to cater for that clinical load. Our clinical capacity is much greater than that. In Caura alone we have 100 spaces allocated and there are just under 200 spaces in the Couva facility.”

The CMO said the COVID-19 situation in the United States and Brazil, who both continue to record significant increases in cases, further emphasised the need to keep T&T’s borders closed.

“Their numbers are rising as well and they are all around us. So we have to judge basically if and when to reopen our borders based on what the circumstance is on the outside, just as we closed it based on what the circumstance was at that time in certain countries.

“But for now, because the pandemic has spread so quickly throughout the world, the situation in no particular country has reached the stage that we can allow entry from any one particular territory as yet. So hence the reason we had made the recommendation to have the borders remain closed.”

Deyalsingh also stressed that the parallel health system had been expanded through the addition of the Canada Hall at the University of the West Indies’ St Augustine campus as well as the cruise ship. He also confirmed that 49 returning nationals from Mexico were to be quarantined at the Kapok hotel. However, this quarantine will be paid for by their company not the state, he said.