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A man cleans a spray-painted sign off a section of the wall on First Citizens’ Independence Square, Port-of-Spain branch yesterday.

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As the fear of the recent uptick in localised COVID-19 cases continued to fuel debate on whether the Government should again lock down the country, the Ministry of Health yesterday reported eight new cases, the highest daily count since the virus hit Trinidad and Tobago’s shores.

In the ministry’s 6 pm update, it said three of seven new cases recently returned from Canada while four were primary contacts of a recent case. This pushed the overall tally of confirmed cases to 164. Earlier yesterday, the ministry reported one more case had been reported overnight, a patient who is a primary contact of a person who recently tested positive.

Up to last night, there were 34 patients under medical quarantine and treatment.

It has been a worrisome two-week period for citizens. It was just last Wednesday that T&T began recording new cases of local transmission, something that had not happened in two and a half months. However, after a new localised case from East Trinidad – case 139 – there has been a steady rise in new cases.

On Wednesday, Chief Medical Officer Dr Roshan Parasram confirmed that T&T was in its second wave of the virus spread. Even worse, Minister of Health Terrence Deyalsingh said the public was refusing to cooperate of health officials carrying out contact tracing.

However, Deyalsingh said the Government is not considering another lockdown at this time. Instead, he said they proposed to use targeted and strategic lockdowns of business and places exposed to the virus.

Meanwhile, workers at the Trinidad and Tobago Mortgage Finance Company Limited are refusing to turn out to work today after a COVID scare in the Finance Department yesterday.

In a memorandum to employees, TTMF Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer Robert Green said an employee was placed under home quarantine by the ministry. He advised in the memorandum that “employees that were in close contact (in excess of 15 minutes) to this employee, will be required to vacate the first floor east area (Finance/Corporate Services) for the purpose of sanitisation.” The employees deemed to be in close contact with their co-worker were also placed under home quarantine.

But a worker who spoke on condition on anonymity yesterday said the other employees were upset that the entire staff was not sent home and the entire facility properly sanitised.

“Most workers were very angry about what management said in the letter because it looking as though management ain’t care about the staff members… because they sending the finance department alone home. I mean everybody using the same building,” the employee told Guardian Media.

The employee said union officials were absent yesterday but to protect themselves, “members say they not coming out to work tomorrow (today) because they’re not taking any chances.”

Calls to the Banking, Insurance and General Workers’ Union (BIGWU) president Mario Als last evening went unanswered.