UNC promoted vigils which spread covid19


Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley. –

THE Prime Minister on Monday alleged that the UNC had promoted public vigils causing the spread of covid19. He was wrapping up debate on his motion that the House of Representatives notes the President of the Republic’s declaration of a state of emergency (SoE).

Dr Rowley began by rejecting the Opposition’s claim that Transport Minister Rohan Sinanan had said 50,000 people had travelled from Trinidad to Tobago for Easter.

The PM said Sinanan had said the period of travel was as extensive as two weeks and the weekends between them.

“He never said 50,000 people travelled to Tobago, 25,000 people travelling one way and 25,000 people coming the other way is 50,000 people.”

Rowley said the Opposition wants to sustain a narrative that the covid19 spike was due to people visiting Tobago for Easter.

Saying the Opposition wanted an investigation into how TT had got to its current covid19 position, Rowley shot back.

“Be careful what you ask for, because you will get it.

“The only country I know of in the Caribbean where in the middle of the pandemic the Opposition organised gatherings called vigils ­– thousands of people for a month, trying to exploit the death of Andrea Bharatt, and you are asking me how we got here?”

Rowley challenged the Opposition to say what, if any, other gatherings took place in Trinidad during that period after February.

Couva North MP Rudranath Indarsingh complained these remarks were irrelevant to the current debate on the President’s proclamation of a SOE, but Speaker Bridgid Annisette-George overruled the objection.

Rowley continued, “What other country do you know of fighting covid alongside TT that the Opposition paid for/organised, night after night, thousands of people to do exactly what the virus wanted which was to bring people together during a pandemic? They organised transport to bring people.”

Barataria/San Juan MP Saddam Hosein rose to interject, “These are the families of the victims who are mourning. This is imputing improper motives.”

Rowley retorted, “You could shout as loud as you like. That happened in this country.”

He said the Opposition had tried to raise covid19 for debate as urgent matters which would put off all other matters for debate but, when these efforts had failed, if they had really been serious they could have filed it under other headings.

On Persad-Bissessar’s complaint that covid19 cases rose in TT, while thousands of English people met to watch football matches, Rowley blamed the former on the English hoarding vaccines for themselves. He urged the Opposition to join with the Government to urge the British to share the vaccines.

Rowley addressed illegal migration and covid19.

“The last person in this country who should be talking about porous borders is the member for Siparia and her crowd.” He said it was laughable to suggest a fence could protect TT as he assured the security services had been treating aggressively with illegal migrants. “Funnily enough, Madam Speaker, as we pick them up and carry them to the court to return them, who are their biggest defence in TT? Who runs to the court to argue all kinds of…?” Rowley chided Naparima MP Rodney Charles for having urged a change in the law to create refugees in TT.

The PM said it was because the Government had a plan that TT could suppress the virus spread while vaccines were being developed,

He said it was a reality of the international community that vaccines were not available, including to private conglomerates. He said the Opposition had undermined the Government’s message. Hosein objected but the Speaker overruled him. The PM said he had ignored no advice from any top public health officials.

Rowley said TT has done “very well” in the past year, and he expected the number of deaths to fall from now onwards.

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