Tobago stakeholders welcome SoE


Patients outside the Canaan Health Centre during the vaccination drive in Tobago. – David Reid

Tobago stakeholders have welcomed the Government’s decision to implement a State of Emergency (SoE) in an effort to further limit movement of people and reduce the alarmingly high rate of covid19 infections and deaths.

The SoE began from midnight on Saturday and the curfew would be from 9pm and 5am.

At a news conference on Saturday at the Diplomatic Centre, St Ann’s, the Prime Minister said the measure is necessary to ensure people had fewer opportunities to congregate and spread the virus, which has already claimed 276 lives and infected 15,899 since March 2020..

The announcement of the SoE came a day after the TT Chamber of Industry and Commerce recommended that such action be taken to curb the rapid spread of the virus.

THA Secretary of Health, Wellness and Family Development Tracy Davidson-Celestine said the move is necessary given the recent staggering increase in new infections.

“Today, the Prime Minister announced a State of Emergency to protect the public and TT. This is necessary as the rampant spread of covid19 threatens this country on a scale that is overwhelming,” she told Sunday Newsday via WhatsApp.

Davidson-Celestine reiterated people must also play their part in reducing the rate of infection.

“While we fight the virus with everything we have, we are also fighting public behaviour. This is no longer about blame. This is about ridding ourselves of the virus that threatens all of us.”

She said the division, for the most part, has been managing the virus in Tobago and will embark on a mass vaccination programme “to get us out of the danger zone.

“Our message and actions are clear, the public must heed the precautionary measures.”

The Tobago Chamber of Commerce said while its supports the SoE and curfew, it must be a short-term measure.

“We urge that these measures be applied with the greatest of restraint and caution and we remain affirmative in our position that these must remain short-term measures only,” chamber president Martin George said in a WhatsApp voice note.

“These are not the long-term solutions to the current pandemic crisis facing Trinidad and Tobago.”

George reiterated widespread vaccination of the population is the only solution to reduce the spread of the virus.

“We have said repeatedly that vaccination is the only solution…we want to hear more about the Government plan to roll out widespread vaccinations for TT.”

He said it is not sufficient to simply implement restrictions, lockdowns and curfews.

“Apart from a state of emergency, we want to hear about the state of immunisation. What is the current plan to ensure that we can reach that 70 per cent where we can have herd immunity?”

George also wanted to know about the Government’s plan to acquire more vaccines to ensure that citizens will be “ultimately protected from the ravages of this virus so that we can get back to a state of normalcy.”

Tobago Hotel and Tourism Association vice-president Carol-Ann Birchwood-James said the SoE was inevitable.

“The numbers kept rising and the death statistics kept rising as well and I am sure that has scared the population,” she said.

“Therefore, this is the ultimate measure that we are going to have to take.”

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