Daily Brief - Thursday 12th March, 2020

NEWS

Health ministry addressing expected drug delays

A delay in importing pharmaceuticals into TT is expected, Chief Medical Officer Dr Roshan Parasram has warned. Speaking at the Public Administrations and Appropriations Committee, at the Cabildo Building, Port of Spain, on Wednesday, Parasram said the delay is a result of a global shortage, which has directly or indirectly been caused by the covid19 pandemic. "I think China produces a lot of the world's supply of medicine. They also produce the active pharmaceutical ingredients that other countries use to make drugs," Parasram said, adding that India, a major supplier of pharmaceuticals, has also limited its exports. Read more here

Cuba announces COVID-19 cases, Italian tourists

Cu­ba con­firmed its first cas­es of the new coro­n­avirus on Wednes­day, while its tex­tile in­dus­try has been draft­ed to fab­ri­cate masks and the gov­ern­ment al­so urges cit­i­zens to make their own, amid a cash crunch and dwin­dling sup­plies world­wide. Cu­ba’s state news broad­cast­er said four Ital­ian tourists who were stay­ing at a hos­tel in the south­ern town of Trinidad af­ter ar­riv­ing at Ha­vana air­port on Mon­day had pre­sent­ed res­pi­ra­to­ry symp­toms and were tak­en to a hos­pi­tal on Tues­day. On Wednes­day, the hos­pi­tal con­firmed that three of the tourists had test­ed pos­i­tive for the coro­n­avirus, the broad­cast­er said. Au­thor­i­ties were track­ing down those who had come in­to con­tact with the three and was check­ing up on them. Read more here

 

POLITICS

Kamla: Abandoned schools make Penal like war zone

While at the opening ceremony of the Penal Fire Station on Tuesday, Siparia MP and Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar said she could not help but feel saddened at the sight of two nearby schools she claims were abandoned by the Government. She said she will ensure the work is completed when her party, the United National Congress (UNC), takes office after this year’s general elections. She said she was told the Shiva Boys’ Hindu College and the Parvati Girls’ Hindu College were 80 to 90 per cent completed in 2015. But with the schools still incomplete five years later, she feels it is a sad situation. “Can you see them? Oh, God. Look at them. You have to get a picture of that. Read more here

Deyalsingh: Govt buying time with travel ban

Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh said yesterday Government has imposed travel restrictions “to buy a lot of time to allow us to treat with the inevitable arrival of the COVID-19 virus”. Read more here

 

BUSINESS

Homework in the age of covid19

As children, work is something done both in public and in private: among peers in official settings like the classroom and also in the more relaxed confines of home. Growing up, homework was something most dreaded, representing a reminder of the inevitable return to class as well as an incursion on private time. And yet, this very notion of homework has paved the way for millennials’ propensity to adapt to functioning in non-office environments. That propensity could well become business’ most important tool in fighting covid19. Gabriel Faria’s suggestion last week that a work-from-home model should be on the table is something business leaders and the State should consider seriously. The Chamber of Industry and Commerce CEO’s disclosure of efforts to provide guidance on this matter is welcome, as is clarification on the existence of any software tools that might make work-from-home easier. Read more here

Tobago worried about impact of German restriction

The de­ci­sion to re­strict trav­ellers from Ger­many, Spain and France from en­ter­ing Trinidad and To­ba­go due to the out­break of COVID-19 (Coro­n­avirus) is like­ly to hurt tourism in To­ba­go. Trav­ellers whose flights orig­i­nat­ed from Italy, South Ko­rea, Sin­ga­pore, Japan, Iran and Chi­na had al­ready been sub­ject to a 14-day wait af­ter leav­ing those coun­tries be­fore they are al­lowed to en­ter Trinidad and To­ba­go and on Tues­day Prime Min­is­ter Dr Kei­th Row­ley an­nounced gov­ern­ment had added the three lat­est Eu­ro­pean na­tions. Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Of­fi­cer of the To­ba­go Tourism Agency (TTA) Louis Lewis said the is­land was par­tic­u­lar­ly con­cerned about the im­pact on vis­i­tors from Ger­many. "Ger­many rep­re­sents 16 per­cent of our source mar­kets and there­fore it will have an im­pact." Lewis told Guardian Me­dia in an in­ter­view on Wednes­day. Read more here

‘Petrotrin US$720m loan transparent’

Finance Minister Colm Imbert told the Senate on Tuesday that Petrotrin and Trinidad Petroleum Holdings Ltd used established and transparent procedures to select individuals and firms to provide advisory and support services to source and secure TPHL’s US$720 million loan in 2018. Read more here

 

REGIONAL

UK-US Travel Ban Hangs In Balance - Trade Weighs Heavy On PM’s Mind

Despite the growing concerns over the outbreak of the deadly novel coronavirus in the United States and the United Kingdom, the Holness administration has acknowledged that the potential fallout from Jamaica’s major trading partners has swayed the decision to delay a ban. That both countries have heavy concentrations of Jamaican migrants has also proven to be of consequence, Health and Wellness Minister Dr Christopher Tufton revealed. Tufton was responding to a question posed by The Gleaner about why the Government had delayed the imposition of travel restrictions on two of its main bilateral partners, which have reported an aggregate of more than 1,700 COVID-19 cases. Read more here

Guyana records first case of Coronavirus

Guyanese woman with travel history to the United States died at the Georgetown Public Hospital, Wednesday, from the dreaded coronavirus. The 52-year-old Guyanese woman lived at Good Hope on the East Coast of Demerara and reportedly only recently returned from New York with family members. President David Granger, in a statement on Wednesday, confirmed that the case of the 52-year-old woman was the first “imported case” of the COVID-19 in Georgetown. President Granger said the woman arrived in the country on March 5, 2020 and was presented to the public health system on March 10. At that time, she was found to have uncontrolled Diabetes and Hypertension, but subsequently died at the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC) at 08:00hrs on March 11. Read more here

 

INTERNATIONAL

Trump address sparks chaos as coronavirus crisis deepens

President Donald Trump set out to steady a rattled nation and a diving economy in a solemn Oval Office address, but instead sowed more confusion and doubts that he is up to handling the fast-worsening coronavirus crisis. Trump spoke to the nation at a fearful moment, when the rhythms of everyday American life are starting to shut down -- with schools closing, the NBA suspended, hospitals on high alert and movie icon Tom Hanks saying he and his wife have the disease. "The virus will not have a chance against us. No nation is more prepared or more resilient than the United States," the President said, before painting a rosy picture of an economy that is already taking a beating from the virus fallout. The President unveiled several measures to help on that score, to help workers who lack sick pay but have to self-isolate and are hard-hit by shutdowns, though his call for a payroll tax cut is not popular in Congress. Read more here

Coronavirus: Republic of Ireland to close schools and colleges

Schools, colleges and other public facilities in the Republic of Ireland are to close in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak. Taoiseach (Irish prime minister) Leo Varadkar said the measures would take effect from 18:00 on Thursday to 29 March. He said indoor mass gatherings of more than 100 people and outdoor gatherings of more than 500 should be cancelled. He added that where it is possible to work remotely people should do so. The first death linked to coronavirus has been recorded in the Republic of Ireland. The elderly woman died in a Dublin hospital on Wednesday. Read more here

12th March 2020

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