Amidst concerns that the absence of two senior people may affect Tobago’s handling of COVID-19-related cases, Tobago Regional Health Authority (TRHA) chairman Ingrid Melville is allaying islanders’ fears.
Concerns were raised about the TRHA’s ability to handle any impending COVID-19 threat after Health Secretary Agatha Carrington resigned on February 28 and CEO Sheldon Cyrus was fired on March 2.
Speaking to Guardian Media on the authority’s capacity to handle any possible health situation due to COVID-19, Melville said, “Tobagonians need not worry.”
She stressed that the public health department is primarily responsible for spearheading efforts to manage the situation in ther event of a COVID-19 emergency, adding the TRHA is making sure the island’s health facilities are equipped and ready if and when needed and would be able to “handle any case management that may result from any patient with coronavirus.”
“We have already demonstrated this,” Melville added.
However, despite Melville’s reassurance on the issue, the Tobago House of Assembly’s Minority Council is calling for the board’s immediate removal, saying the Division of Health is without leadership while the world is grappling with COVID-19.
Speaking at a press conference at the council’s Main Street, Scarborough office yesterday, Assemblyman Farley Augustine said the island is currently facing a health crisis. He called on the THA Executive Council to “get its act together” and decide what should be done with the TRHA board members.
“I’m going to call for the entire board to be fired or resign because we cannot have a situation where we are changing CEOs more often than some people change underwear,” the area representative for Parlatuvier/L’ Anse Fourmi/Speyside said.
He said the board has shown it cannot oversee Tobagonians’ health issues.
“If the board has been picking the wrong CEO by hiring someone and turning around and firing them, it simply means that something’s wrong with the board,” Farley said.
Meanwhile, villagers in Louis D’or said they were comfortable with the Health Department’s current handling of a villager who returned from China less than 14 days ago. The woman was quarantined at home, then taken to the hospital for a slight fever but returned home under police guard when her test results for COVID-19 returned nagative.
“In any case, we know they (authorities) will do their best. It’s just propaganda that people might be spreading about what is happening at the hospital. It’s all about educating yourself about the virus,” villager Kedrick Stewart told Guardian Media.
The girl’s brother said most villagers are also not concerned about getting the coronavirus because his sister is in the village.
“Only people who not educated about it making noise about the situation,” he said.