THE union representing port, airport and immigration workers is calling for an emergency meeting on the coronavirus.
Michael Annisette, general secretary of the National Trade Union Centre (NATUC), said there is a high percentage of Chinese citizens in TT who may be travelling to and from China and this required talks to avert what he said could probably be a fatal health crisis.
He wants the government and the Minister of Health to convene a meeting with all stakeholders.
He said, “We are aware that a great number of Chinese nationals live and work in TT by means of work permits and because of the temporary nature of their employment they may have to travel back and forth to China. In addition, it is alleged that there are also a substantial number of illegal Chinese immigrants residing in TT.:
He wanted the meeting “to discuss ways and means of monitoring the situation so that a level of comfort can be given to all citizens/workers” whose jobs might bring them in contact with Chinese citizens or locals who may have been in contact with anyone who might have the virus.
Annisette said he is disappointed government has not sought to engage his union to put their collective heads together to come up with a solid plan to avert any potential danger.
Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh said the chances of the disease reaching TT were remote.
But Annisette argued that given the country of origin of the virus and considering the “vast” number of Chinese nationals who travel to and from China frequently, government should summon stakeholders to discuss the measures it intends to implement to safeguard citizens’ health and wellbeing.
The virus has spread to other countries and the death toll, which has passed 100, continues to rise, as well as the number of confirmed and suspected cases.
The TT Foreign Affairs Ministry, in a statement, confirmed there are two TT citizens in the Hubei Province, whose capital is Wuhan, the epicentre of the coronavirus. One is in Wuhan and the other in Qianjiang. The TT Embassy in Beijing, China said it is contact with the two.
Annisette reminded government,that his union represented port workers, airport workers, offshore workers, immigration and custom officers and plant quarantine workers, who may be susceptible to contracting the disease from affected travellers.
Annisette said a collaborative approach can be found, given the potential health danger that may be looming and which had the potential to undermine the economy and health institutions.
Deyalsingh said in the Senate on Tuesdaythat arriving passengers are being screened at ports of entry.