Daily Brief - Thursday 26th March, 2020

NEWS

CoP: Call 555 for quarantine breakers

The police will be brought in to ensure public compliance with quarantine restrictions imposed by the government as part of its efforts to contain the spread of the coronavirus pandemic. Chief Medical Officer, Dr Roshan Parasram, said they were at the "tipping point" with the irresponsibility displayed by some citizens. Parasram was speaking Wednesday at the now regular morning media briefing by the Ministry of Health at its Park Street headquarters in Port of Spain. Parasram along with Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh, and Stuart Young, Minister of National Security spoke at the session, each of them re-reinforcing the threat non-compliance by errant people posed to the rest of the population. Read more here

Man vacationing in T&T is first COVID death

A US citizen reportedly vacationing in Trinidad and Tobago is this country’s first COVID-19 death. The man, 77, reportedly passed away at the Couva Hospital around midday Wednesday. The death was confirmed via a release by Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh Wednesday night, after he initially refused to do so to Guardian Media on two occasions after he was approached for the information. Contacted via cell phone around 6.30 pm, Deyalsingh refused to comment but asked, “Would you like to learn that your parent has died in the media?” Pressed further, Deyalsingh claimed a need to ensure the family’s privacy was respected before disconnecting the call. Guardian Median also approached Deyalsingh after Wednesday’s session of Parliament after 7 pm and he also refused to comment before getting into his vehicle and departing. Read more here

 

POLITICS

Imbert: HSF for a rainy day, covid19 a 'tsunami'

Finance Minister Colm Imbert said the early withdrawal from the Heritage and Stabilisation Fund (HSF) will keep people alive as TT was facing a "tsunami" with covid19. "We can't wait a year. The amount of people that will die during that year that we wait. We can't wait until next year to draw from this fund. And anybody who says different is not a serious person. They're a joker." He was piloting The Miscellaneous Provisions (Heritage and Stabilisation Fund, Government Savings Bonds and Value Added Tax) Bill in the House of Representatives on Wednesday. Read more here

Deyalsingh: Don’t use malaria drugs for COVID treatment

Anti-malaria drugs chloroquine and hydrochloroquine can’t be used to treat the COVID-19 virus and some unsupervised use of these drugs in Nigeria and the US has resulted in poisoning, Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh said yesterday. “They’re useless and possibly dangerous - we don’t recommend them,” Deyalsingh said in Parliament. He gave the response to UNC MP Dr Lackram Bodoe, who asked about reports suggesting the two drugs may be valuable in COVID treatment. Bodoe wanted to know if Government was considering making this available to local patients. He also noted reports of increased demand for the drug. Deyalsingh said the drugs were for treating a malaria caused by a parasite, when COVID-19 was a virus and the two are entirely different. He said reports of their effectiveness were purely anecdotal among a small number of patients and carried no scientific weight. Read more here

 

BUSINESS

Covid19 strain on already overburdened system

The covid19 pandemic could place an additional economic strain on TT, in terms of stress on the National Insurance Scheme (NIS). There is also the issue of pandemic leave, the details of which and its impact on the NIS are still unclear. There is a shortfall in the system which could be compounded by pandemic leave – an attempt by Government to cover how workers are treated if they are absent from work because of the virus, several analysts told Business Day. The NIS currently provides coverage for sickness and maternity leave, retirement and invalidity, old age pension and employment injury. "The recent covid19 pandemic will only serve to exert additional pressure on an already overburdened NIS," said former minister in the ministry of finance Vasant Bharath. Read more here

RBC announces first 45 minutes for seniors to bank

RBC Royal Bank has announced the introduction of special month-end banking times for seniors and differently-abled persons due to the ongoing novel coronavirus (COVID-19) global pandemic. According to the bank from Friday, March 27, 2020 to Friday, April 3, 2020, most RBC branches will open 15 minutes early to serve seniors and differently-abled persons. Following the early-opening, the first 30 minutes of regular branch hours will continue to be reserved for seniors and differently-abled persons. Read more here

Lessons and challenges: Cooperation in the era of Coronavirus

As the world battle to come to terms with the COVID-19 pandemic, which apart from leaving a trail of dead bodies, threatens to stifle economic growth and dismantle some economies, Manuel Otero, Director of the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) is calling for diversification. Read more here

 

REGIONAL

Stranded! - As Airlines Cancel Flights, COVID-19 Leaves Jamaicans High And Dry

They missed the March 24 deadline to return to Jamaica and now find themselves stranded in an airport in Atlanta, Georgia, as they try to make their way home. They are seasonal Jamaican hotel workers who normally travel on HB-2 visas to work in various hotels in far-flung United States cities. With the Jamaican borders now closed as a measure to counter the spread of COVID-19, some 150 seasonal hotel workers are now scrambling to find alternative accommodation because of their inability to get back to Jamaica. Their hotels have closed, and they had to vacate the apartments where they were housed during their work period. Read more here

No new cases of COVID-19

AS the Ministry of Public Health continues to put systems in place to curtail the spread of the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19), 13 persons have been quarantined and are being monitored by medical professionals, but the number of confirmed cases have remained constant, at five. This was according to Minister of Public Health, Volda Lawrence, in a recorded update which was posted on the Ministry of Public Health’s Facebook Page, on Wednesday. She said four persons have been placed in mandatory isolation and seven persons were of interest to the ministry, but six of those persons have since been removed from the list. According to Minister Lawrence, those persons in quarantine, as well as those in isolation, will continue to receive support from the ministry’s Mental Health Unit in collaboration with the Ministry of Social Protection. Read more here

  

INTERNATIONAL

Moscow closes all restaurants, stores and parks for a week

Moscow is closing all restaurants, cafes, bars, shops and parks from March 28 until April 5 for the “stay-at-home holidays” announced by Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday, the city’s mayor said in a statement. "The restrictions introduced today are unprecedented in the modern history of Moscow and will create many inconveniences for the everyday life of every person,” said Mayor Sergey Sobyanin on Thursday. "But believe me, they are absolutely necessary in order to slow the spread of coronavirus infection and reduce the number of cases." Read more here

Scottish orders for protective gear 'got clogged up'

Scotland’s chief medical officer Dr Catherine Calderwood says that every health worker should be able to get appropriate protective equipment by next week. They are changing the way they distribute equipment, she says, after the system got “clogged up with huge orders that didn’t get processed because the orders couldn’t be fulfilled”. She says the changes to the distribution process mean the supply “shouldn’t be a problem next week.” Read more here

 

26th March 2020

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