Cabinet has agreed to reduced the numbers permitted to gather from 50 to 25. This was announced on Thursday afternoon by the Premier Easton Taylor-Farrell in a joint press conference with all of his ministers and parliamentary secretary present.
The premier said the decision was to enable the island to continue to reduce the exposure of residents to the coronavirus COVID-19. He further indicated that as of tonight, March 19 anyone arriving by ferry or plane is to go into a 14-day mandatory quarantine at their place of abode. They have also reinforced that there will be no visits to senior citizens at hospitals and other homes as they are most susceptible to catching the virus.
Health officials reiterated that to date only one person has tested positive for the virus. The other two samples sent off were negative. Permanent Secretary of Health Camille Thomas-Gerald said as the Flu Clinic set up at the St.Peter’s Health Centre opened today they were unable give further details until Friday, once they have evaluated the operations. They would then be able to share whether additional samples were taken and if there is a need to send off kits to be tested at the CARPHA laboratories in Trinidad.
Minister of Agriculture Crenston Buffonge said they are aware of the concerns about the island’s food supply and are in talks with farmers about increasing food production. Early estimates was that the island had supplies for one month.
As it relates to continuing education of students who were given an early Easter break until April 3 to manage the exposure to the virus, the Permanent Secretary of Education, Lyston Skerritt said the ministry is exploring several avenues to deliver learning to the students. Of concern, are the fifth form students preparing for regional CSEC exams.
Due to the briefness of the press conference (media were only allowed 30 minutes) many questions were left unasked and unanswered. Clarity is needed on why the government has reduced gatherings to 25 while larger nations have dropped it to 10 or discouraged gatherings completely. It is also unclear why health authorities have not begun to test people exposed to the virus although they are asymptomatic as new research says that it can be spread this way.
Watch the press conference here…