Thirty-three Trinidad and Tobago nationals stranded in Barbados by the COVID-19 virus are expected to return home today.
Attorney Prakash Ramadhar said yesterday that Minister of National Security Stuart Young had granted the group an exemption allowing entry after much deliberation last evening.
The 33 nationals, who were on a vacation cruise in Dubai before they made their way home via England, were left stranded in Barbados on March 23, one day after the T&T Government closed the borders.
Since their arrival in Barbados, the group has been in quarantine at their own expense.
Contacted yesterday, Phillip Ramdial, one of the nationals, said: “We are expected to be on 10 am and 1 pm flight via Caribbean Airlines.
“The reason for the two flights, it will be a measure to ensure social distancing on the plane to T&T.
“We are glad that this ordeal can be over. So far, none of us have shown any signs of the coronavirus and we have undergone quarantine and we were examined by Barbados health professionals and we were given certificates of fitness.
“The group have agreed to screening, testing and quarantine again when we return to Trinidad and Tobago.
“However, through our attorneys, we have not received word from the Chief Medical Officer as to whether our quarantine will be state or in our homes.”
During yesterday’s virtual media briefing, however, Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh said the group will be met by a medical team when they arrive today.
“The Barbadian authorities will be sending hopefully, a detailed breakdown of the persons, their health status, so that when they land in Trinidad and Tobago they will be medically assessed and see what possible care we can give to them.
“Not only coming into the country but also to see about their underlying health concerns. So the Chief Medical Officer has a team standing by to do just that,” Deyalsingh said.
He also said he could not deal with appeals for care packages for other nationals still stranded abroad.
“I will be responsible for them once they land here,” he said.
Speaking to the T&T Guardian, Ramadhar said he and colleague Larry Lalla had communicated with Young and submitted all the requisite documents for the return of the nationals and the received approval for the nationals to return yesterday evening.
“These nationals have exhausted most of their funds. It is costing them US$25,000 to secure flights,” Ramadhar said.
“The 33 have agreed to screening, testing and quarantine on their return. During their period in Barbados, they underwent quarantine and were examined by doctors there.
“Certificates of fitness were handed out and none of them had a single symptom of COVID-19.”
He said he is hoping the group will be placed in home quarantine, especially as they showed no symptoms and they are open to being tested for the virus again.
He said the stranded group wanted to give a heartfelt thanks to the many Barbados nationals and the government for their hospitality and to the T&T Government for allowing them to return home.
Efforts to contact Young for comment on the matter were unsuccessful yesterday as he did not return calls to his cellphone.