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Tobago PNM leader Tracy Davidson-Celestine speak to members of the media after the THA’s results at the party’s headquarters in Scarborough on Monday.

The Tobago council of the People’s National Movement has completed screening candidates for ten of the 15 electoral districts in Tobago.

Speaking on CNC3’s the Morning Brew with host Jason Williams, political leader of the Tobago council, Tracy Davidson-Celestine said the party’s screening process was being done on a phased basis because of the number of potential candidates.

“We are now in the process of selecting and finalising the prospective candidates to represent in the 15 electoral districts. Yesterday (Monday) we saw the start of the screening process, it will be a two-phased process, yesterday we were able to screen ten out of the 15 seats and on Thursday, the screening process will continue,” she said.

Those selected include THA Chief Secretary Ancil Dennis and Finance Secretary Joel Jack.

The PNM, the Progressive Democratic Patriots and the newly-formed Innovative Democratic Alliance will all contest the Tobago House of Assembly (THA) election.

Davidson-Celestine said the party was excited and hopeful about its chances at the polls and has taken an on-the-ground approach to campaigning.

“Walking about through the length and breadth of Tobago, most people have said to me that what they want is stability at this time in the face of chaos, having to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic and all of the unpredictable situations arising from COVID so they are looking forward to very experienced and stable leadership and the best vehicle that can take them through this very unpredictable time,” she said.

Addressing the issue of campaigning during a pandemic, Davidson-Celestine said the party has already begun instructing candidates about precautions they need to employ during their walkabouts.

She said slowing the spread of COVID-19 was critical, especially with the detection of the Delta variant in every county in Trinidad and with one detected case in Tobago.

“One of the things that we have already started talking to our candidates about is walking with smaller numbers in this election, not more than four, not more than six in many instances but of course you know when people are excited, they have a tendency to move in a particular way so we will continuously remind them of the protocols that we are putting in place as to manage the spread of the virus.”

Davidson-Celestine also holds the portfolio of Health and Wellness Secretary in the THA. She said the latest report from the Tobago Regional Authority (TRHA) has shown that 60 per cent of Tobago’s eligible population has had at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

“We have about 21,652 out of the 36,000 persons we have been targeting, so initially we had set a 60 per cent target to be vaccinated and I am pretty heartened that we have achieved that to date but at the same time we have about 53 per cent of the population who are fully vaccinated and this stands at about 19,086 of the targeted population.”

She said Tobagonians were responding to the call to get vaccinated slowly but steadily.

However, Davidson-Celestine said she was concerned about the low rate of vaccination among eligible students between the ages of 12 to 16. Only 2,055 students are fully vaccinated on the island with 1,376 partially vaccinated.