Daily Brief - Tuesday 24th March, 2020

NEWS

Tobago airbridge restricted to essential travel

National Security Minister Stuart Young said the airbridge between Trinidad and Tobago has been restricted to essential travel as part of covid19 prevention measures. He was speaking at a media conference held at the Diplomatic Centre, Port of Spain. "This decision and this strong suggestion is to again try and reduce the potential for contact spread between Trinidad and Tobago on the aircraft." He said the services will continue flying and the ministry has been in discussions with Caribbean Airlines which will make an announcement on the number of people that will be carried on a plane load and the amount of service, "But at this stage the Government is asking that only essential travel be conducted via the airbridge." Read more here

CMO: 6 COVID-19 patients under special care

Of the 51 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Trinidad and Tobago, only one patient is in an Intensive Care Unit while five are warded at the High Dependency Unit at the Couva Hospital. The update on the confirmed cases came from Chief Medical Officer Dr Roshan Parasram at a press conference at the Diplomatic Centre, St Ann's, on Monday. Parasram said the ministry has so far tested 311 people who displayed symptoms of the virus. There were 51 confirmed cases as of Monday, all of which were imported, Parasram said. He said 41 of those cases were on board the Caribbean cruise that was denied entry to Guadeloupe recently after passengers on board tested positive for the virus, while an additional ten cases also had histories of travelling in the past. The 41, he said, were part of the 68 people who were quarantined in Balandra last Wednesday after returning home from the ill-fated cruise. Read more here

 

POLITICS

Army called in as covid19 patients in Couva disobey quarantine

Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh said the army had to be called as 40 people who tested positive for covid19 and were being quarantined at Couva Hospital were disobeying restrictions. He was speaking at a media conference held at the Diplomatic Centre, Port of Spain. He said a front page of a daily newspaper showing two people embracing after one returned on a flight demonstrated the type of behaviour that was not in keeping with what is expected with covid19 restrictions. "The message is not getting down to every single person." Deyalsingh reported on the 40 patients at Couva who returned to Trinidad from a cruise in Guadeloupe and were previously quarantined at Camp Balandra. Read more here

$1b COVID-19 stimulus package

Citizens of this county who lose their jobs as a result of the measures being put in place to curb the spread of COVID-19 will be able to access a Salary Relief Grant of $1,500 a month for the next three months, Finance Minister Colm Imbert announced yesterday. The grant is expected to help over 80,000 citizens and will cost taxpayers around $400 million, Imbert said during a press conference where Government unveiled several measures being put in a place as part of a billion-dollar plan to help cushion the economic impact of the stringent action being taken to battle COVID-19. In all, the Government is expected to need around $9 billion to address the country’s current economic situation, including the dramatic fall in oil prices and the arrival of the virus on our shores. Read more here

 

BUSINESS

Banks announce branch closures and time changes

The Banker’s Association of Trinidad and Tobago (BATT) has announced that there will soon be changes to the operations of some banking institutions. In a release, BATT said that it would be implementing a reduction in the operation of some branches and an adjustment in the closing and opening hours of other branches. BATT noted that these changes are in “an effort to minimize disruption of services to our customers while ensuring the safety and well-being of our staff and stakeholders.” The Association explained: “These measures will be implemented effective this week until further notice.” BATT expressed that customers can visit their banks’ website for further details with respect to the closure of branches and opening and closing hours. Read more here

Chamber: Social distancing destroying small businesses

As schools and businesses across the country were encouraged to shut their doors for 14 days to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus, many small businesses and self-employed persons have begun to feel the brunt of social distancing. Read more here

 

REGIONAL

‘Total lockdown possible’

A “total lockdown” is imminent if Guyanese continue to ignore the public health authorities’ advice and guidelines related to the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19), said Deputy Chief Medical Officer (DCMO), Dr. Karen Boyle. Some countries have already taken a step to “lockdown” amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, but while the virus has reached Guyana’s shores, Dr. Boyle believes a total lockdown is not necessary at this time unless people continue to ignore the guidelines. “If people continue to ignore the advice we are giving and guidelines in place, we may get to the point where we have to do that,” said the DCMO in an invited comment, on Monday. A lockdown would entail businesses and other establishments, including public offices, closing their doors temporarily. Read more here

Seniors Under Lockdown! - 75-Y-Os Ordered To Stay Put, 65-Y-Os And Over To Work From Home

As 65-year-old Trevor Small, a self-proclaimed garment constructor based in Kingston, walked along a near-empty Ocean Boulevard yesterday evening, he pondered the new work limitations that will be imposed on senior citizens like himself. Effective tomorrow, Jamaicans 75 years and older have been ordered to stay at home for the next 14 days as the Government also tightened its ban on mass gatherings to 10 or more persons. At the same time, the Prime Minister Andrew Holness said that public-sector workers aged 65 and over who are on contract should be allowed to work from home, subject to specified exemptions. He indicated that the private sector should follow suit. This also takes effect on Wednesday. Read more here

 

INTERNATIONAL

Trump predicts 'this is going to be bad' but vows to reopen America

President Donald Trump appears to have made his choice in the awful dilemma posed by the coronavirus pandemic -- whether to destroy the nation's economic foundation in order to save lives. In his zeal to fire up American prosperity after helping to trigger an unprecedented self-inflicted economic meltdown, Trump is already losing patience -- weeks before the virus may peak. "Our country was not built to be shut down," the President warned on Monday. "We are going to be opening up our country for business because our country was meant to be open." "We are going to get it all going again very soon," he said, without setting a timeline -- though he previously called for rethinking the White House's guidance on social distancing next week. Read more here

New inventions designed to fight the pandemic

Welsh inventors have been among those working on new designs to try to help prevent the spread of the virus. Mass production has begun of a snood-type mask, which designers say can kill this coronavirus - potentially helping protect frontline workers and the vulnerable. The company behind it hopes to make as many as a million-a-week and plans to reserve part of that stock for the NHS. Read more here

24th March 2020

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