Both cases are imported and are men of 52 and 66 years.
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In an emergency press conference of March 12, 2020, the Minister of Health of Trinidad and Tobago, Terrence Deyalsingh, confirmed that medical officials had identified the country's zero COVID-19 patient.
The patient, who lives in Trinidad and Tobago, began to feel ill after returning from a trip to Switzerland and made the decision to isolate himself. He was then transferred to the Caura hospital, specialized in treating thoracic cases. Members of his family tested negative for the virus.
However, after the principal of the Maria Regina primary school in Port of Spain published a statement in which they reported that medical officials confirmed that the “father of a student tested positive for the coronavirus,” the school closed and others followed. The Maple Leaf International School also closed, where a teacher is the spouse of the pilot who captained the Caribbean Airlines flight to Guyana, in which it was determined that a passenger carried the virus. The passenger later died.
During the March 13 Parliament session, Prime Minister Keith Rowley announced the closure of all schools in the country – and even universities – for a week initially, after which the government will reconsider the situation. As of the same date, the Ministry of Health had submitted 63 tests to the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) for COVID-19, and there was only one positive result.
The Government also decided to stop the arrival of cruise ships during the remainder of the 2019-2020 cruise season, which is normally between November and April. The feeling was that the potential economic losses from a COVID-19 outbreak in the country would be far worse than the decline in tourism revenue during the period. Similar measures have been taken in Jamaica.
Even when Prime Minister Rowley urged citizens to stay calm in the face of panic and avoid spreading misinformation, many supermarkets reported cases of hoarding. On WhatsApp, users posted photos and video of panic-driven purchases in crowded supermarkets and pharmacies, which were under-supplied with products like hand sanitizers and toilet paper.
Taking into account the guidelines of the World Health Organization, many citizens were already practicing the recommended measures such as washing their hands and limiting social contacts.
Many activities had previously been canceled due to the possible spread of the virus, including the Tobago Jazz Festival and Point Fortin Borough Day, and religious celebrations such as Phagwa and Spiritual Baptist Liberation Day. In the sister islands of Tobago, where there are still no confirmed cases of the virus, the very popular Goat and Crab Race, which is held every Easter, was also canceled.
This has been the trend within the region. Saint Lucia canceled its annual jazz festival despite the tourism dollars it attracts, and Jamaica postponed its Carnival celebrations – which normally takes place in April – until October 2020.
However, in Trinidad and Tobago there was still time to laugh, even amid anxiety. Aside from the memes circulating on social media, the satirical news page Wired868 scoffed at the priorities of the party-loving trinbagonese with taunts of how they could “safely go through this to get to Carnival 2021 on the other side” .
Jokes aside, the country and much of the Caribbean are preparing for the human and economic effects of COVID-19. The President of the Tobago Division of the Trinidad and Tobago Chamber of Industry and Commerce, Diane Hadad, has order to the Prime Minister visiting the island to discuss the potential impact of the virus on the economy, which is still trying to return to normal after the severe and prolonged interruptions of ferry service between the islands in 2017.
Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh has compared the current situation to walking a tightrope – trying to keep the economy running while taking all “necessary and reasonable” health precautions – but insisted that health authorities be as vigilant as possible. prepared as possible for the arrival of COVID-19.
On March 13 at 7:44 p.m. (UTC-04: 00), the Ministry of Health confirmed a second case, a 66-year-old man who had traveled in the last two weeks and who went to a public health center on March 12 to ask for medical attention. Since then, he has been held in solitary confinement, and the relevant district medical officer has begun locating all persons with whom the patient may have been in contact for quarantine.