Daily Brief - Friday 20th March, 2020

NEWS

86 at Balandra doing well

The group quarantined at the Seventh-Day Adventist Church camp in Balandra, Toco is doing well. The 68 people who returned to Trinidad on Tuesday, after being stranded on a cruise ship in Guadeloupe, will be at the facility for 14 days. They all tested negative for the covid19 virus when they arrived at the Piarco airport after coming off a flight, with no other passengers, and taken to the quarantine facility accompanied by police and defence force. Chief Medical Officer Dr Roshan Parasram, at a post-Cabinet news conference on Thursday, said officials from the Eastern Regional Health Authority (ERHA) have been visiting the group twice daily to assess their health. He said if any of them show any signs or symptoms of the virus, they would be tested immediately. Read more here

COVID measure closes recreational businesses for 1 month

Parliament will today enforce regulations under the Public Health Ordinance (PHO) that will give Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh power to shut down bars, casinos, members’ clubs and restaurants across the country during the response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Owners of such establishments who fail to close during the period stipulated will be imprisoned for six months, according to the Public Health (2019) Novel Coronavirus Regulations 2020. Enforcement of the new law will help control and prevent the spread of the virus, mainly in bars and clubs, but also in restaurants that provide seating and dining to customers. Read more here

 

POLITICS

Parliament convenes Friday for covid19

Parliament will convene on Friday for an extraordinary sitting of both houses for the passage of legislation to deal with the coronavirus pandemic. The Lower House sits at 10 am, and will be followed by the Senate at 1.30 pm. At these sittings, Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi is expected to move a second reading of the Miscellaneous Provisions (2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) Bill, 2020. This Bill seeks to make certain changes to the law to facilitate the conduct of transactions after the current pandemic without penalty, even if a statutory deadline has passed.
In addition, the Bill empowers the Minister of Health to make regulations under the Public Health Ordinance to deal with covid19. Read more here

COVID-19 victim interacts with 66 other people

A contact tracing undertaken on one of the country’s nine comfirmed COVID-19 cases has revealed that the individual had contact with 66 people while carrying the virus. The information was revealed by chief medical officer Dr Roshan Parasram during Thursday’s post-Cabinet media briefing at the Diplomatic Center, St Ann’s. Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh, who addressed the media on the COVID-19 pandemic, meanwhile said there was a feeling by the public that his ministry was hiding information about the virus by releasing the updates late at nights, which “was annoying the media.” As a result, he said his ministry has taken a position to provide the media with updates on the number of confirmed cases at 10 am and 4 pm daily. Parasram then intervened, saying, “I think we would have given out too much, to be honest. We are walking a thin line when we are dealing with persons who are ill.” Read more here

Heavy fines, jail for violaters

The Government is moving from persuasion to compulsion, in recognition of the seriousness of the coronavirus pandemic threat. It is transforming its COVID-19 advisories and giving them the force of law. Read more here

 

BUSINESS

EU providing funding for TT's Eximbank

The European Union Delegation to TT has announced that it has provided funding to the Export-Import Bank of TT (Eximbank) to conduct market demand testing on its current and potential new products and services. This was reported in a release from the delegation Monday. "This testing is critical to increasing the bank's delivery of innovative trade financing solutions, in order to improve non-energy exports and international trade," the release stated. Ambassador and head of the EU Delegation, Aad Biesebroek, stated: "The EU has long been partnering with the Government and important state agencies in TT in order to enhance the overall business and investment climate of the country. It is in an effort to foster greater innovation and competitiveness and allow businesses to take better advantage of the EU-Cariforum Economic Partnership Agreement." Read more here

COVID-19 scare delays Republic branch opening

Scared that a customer who they claimed tested positive with COVID-19 this week may have contaminated their work space, staff of Republic Bank’s Park Street branch yesterday refused to start work until management assured them the location was properly sanitised. Read more here

 

REGIONAL

NHT Relief - Sweetener For New Borrowers, 100,000 Mortgagors To Benefit From Rate Cut

With the COVID-19 pandemic turning its screws on the Jamaican economy, Prime Minister Andrew Holness yesterday announced a stimulus package to reduce interest rates by one percentage point to new National Housing Trust (NHT) borrowers while offering existing mortgagors a 0.5 per cent rate cut. The reduction in interest rate for existing mortgagors will benefit 100,000 persons. Additionally, the Development Bank of Jamaica (DBJ) is seeking to shore up the business process outsourcing (BPO) sector by offering players a moratorium on loans for two months on both principal and interest. Read more here

Brazil closes border with Guyana

AS Brazil continues to record additional cases of the Coronavirus, the government in the neighbouring country has gazetted an order to close its border with several countries including Guyana. The order was effected on Thursday and reports are that the gate along the highway linking Lethem with Bom Fin has been closed to traffic, leaving persons stranded on both sides of the border. The closure is expected to last for two weeks. According to a report in the Brazilian media entity, Folha, the government in the neighbouring country published an extra edition of the Official Gazette on Thursday in which it determined the need to close its borders with Argentina, Bolivia, Colombia, French Guiana, Guyana, Paraguay, Peru and Suriname. Uruguay was left out of the restrictions imposed by the Brazilian government, the report stated. Read more here

 

INTERNATIONAL

Iran registers 149 more deaths related to coronavirus

Iran confirmed 149 more deaths from the novel coronavirus Friday, raising the country's overall death toll to 1,433, according to an announcement from Deputy Health Minister Alireza Raisi. There has been an increase of 1,237 cases of coronavirus in the country in the last 24 hours, Raisi said on state television, bringing the total number of cases to 19,644. A total of 6,745 patients have so far recovered, added the minister. On Thursday, Iran had announced the same number of fatalities (149) since Wednesday, the country's highest spike in death toll over a 24-hour period since the coronavirus outbreak began. Earlier on Friday Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei praised the country’s medical community and volunteers for their work in fighting the coronavirus outbreak. Read more here

First British arrest for failing to self-isolate

A man has been arrested for allegedly failing to self-isolate after arriving on the Isle of Man - thought to be the first person held in the British Isles for breaching quarantine rules. The island passed emergency legislation requiring new arrivals to quarantine themselves for 14 days regardless of symptoms on Tuesday. The 26-year-old man, who was arrested after failing to self-isolate on arrival, could face a fine of up to £10,000 or three months in prison. Read more here

 

20th March 2020

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