The Trinidad and Tobago government Wednesday said that the 33 nationals stranded in Barbados, will have to undergo a 14 day quarantine period on their arrival here for the coronavirus (COVID-19) despite having done so while in the sister Caribbean Community (CARICOM) country.
National Security Minister, Stuart Young, speaking at the daily news conference by the Ministry of Health where it was disclosed that the positive cases here had risen to 60, told reporters that anyone who enters an international airport or a plane would be subjected to the mandatory quarantine period on arrival in Trinidad and Tobago.
“Once you go to an international airport and you enter onto an international flight, you are now back up to maximum amount of risks,” Young said, noting that “persons who have travelled to Miami to New York to all of those international airports need to self-quarantine.
“Moving around as we have seen happened by personalities has led to serious contact spread risk. The virus does not respect your status.”
Young said that the 33 people now in Barbados, if after their quarantine period “and they make their way to Trinidad they will be put into quarantine by the state.
“We need to protect all of you who are within our borders here in Trinidad and Tobago. Understand it cannot be a loophole that we accept that persons make their way from wherever they are in the world on few remaining international flights to any CARICOM country, including Barbados and then think that is a jumping point to break the barrier that we have put to protect the population of Trinidad and Tobago and the people within our borders.
“The government is resolute that it will not allow that and it will do all that it can to continue to protect you, the population that are here,” Young said, adding that “once a CARICOM is open with access to Trinidad we have no more border protection.
“If we leave this open any person who is sick can go on a plane in the United Kingdom, head to Barbados and because Trinidad and Tobago is closed to protect us from this situation, they can then attempt to get through our border like this, the government is resolute…and we are not going to permit that”.
Young said that “we will not be using CARICOM airports to defeat our entry. It is either we are in or we are out. That is the clear message today.
“It is even more dramatic and dangerous to us here in Trinidad and Tobago when CARICOM countries continue to have that international travel with a threat and then catapult them into Trinidad and Tobago and the government is resolute that cannot be permitted and we need to protect all of us here in Trinidad and Tobago.”
He said that even though Trinidad and Tobago had taken the decision to close its borders “ it appears to some people in our society to continue to want to put the rest of us at risk.
“The rest of us who are exercising our social responsibilities,” he said, adding “there are certain irresponsible people who continue to want to push the boundaries.
“The boundaries are not boundaries pushed on the government, are not boundaries pushed on the CMO (Chief Medical Officer) but those are boundaries pushed on we, the population of Trinidad and Tobago.
“So those irresponsible people who want to continue to threaten our survival as a country and our success in protecting you, the people of Trinidad and Tobago, we will not permit that to happen,. We will do everything within our power…to not permit that from happening.”
On Monday, Barbados Attorney General, Dale Marshall, speaking on the state-owned Caribbean Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) said that the Trinidad and Tobago nationals on their arrival there were immediately treated to special protocols.
“Obviously these individuals, having done their travels, intended to go into Trinidad. But the position is that they were not accepting them. We reached out to the government of Trinidad and Tobago during the course of the day to urge that they take their citizens. But the fact of the matter is that they declined to do so,” Marshall said.
“Technically speaking, we could have denied them landing rights into the Barbados, but that would have meant that they would have had to return to England. We had no way of knowing what the situation would be for them in England when they returned. And so it was a question of weighing what our options were. We felt that we were in a position to adequately receive these individuals so long as they were put immediately into mandatory quarantine and that’s what we have done,” Marshall said, adding “they were taken to a place of quarantine that is at their own expense, not an expense of the Government of Barbados”.
During Wednesday’s press conference, both Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh and Young stayed away from making any comment on a pronouncement by a television host, Ian Alleyne, that he had tested positive for the virus following a visit to the United States last week.
Alleyne, the host of a Crime Watch TV show, made a series of emotionally charged videos in which he said he tested positive for the coronavirus after visiting his doctor on Tuesday.
Several media workers have expressed concern at the disclosure since Alleyne had interacted with some of them while on assignment during an attempted prison break earlier this month.
Both Deyalsingh and Young said they were not about to break doctor patient confidentiality, but urged persons who believe that they may have become infected as a result of their contact with the television host to get tested.