Members of One Tobago Voice are calling on the Tobago House of Assembly (THA) to declare its policy on dealing with covid19 when it comes to the island.
Tobago Forwards leader Christlyn Moore and leader of the Tobago Organisation of the People (TOP) Ashworth Jack made the call at a media briefing in Bon Accord on Monday.
Moore said: “When it comes – because it’s not a 'what if' – when it comes, we need a clear policy position. That is the problem. It is not responsible to say, 'Open our doors to all cruise ships,' nor is it responsible to say, 'Close our doors to all cruise ships.'
"Tobago is open for business. However, business around the world is now constrained by coronavirus concerns and the way you allay public fears and public concerns is to outline your clear policy.”
She said the THA and its “minions” had a duty of care of care to the average Tobagonians as well as a duty of care to people who intend to visit.
Moore lashed out against the Tobago Regional Health Authority (TRHA) board for appointing an engineer from the TT Electricity Commission (T&TEC) to oversee operations, questioning the suitability of the authority’s newly appointed acting CEO, who replaced the sacked Sheldon Cyrus.
“From an administration context, we have an acting CEO, whose employment history tells us that he is an engineer from T&TEC. Now really, is that the fit and proper person to administer healthcare in Tobago while we await coronavirus? An engineer from T&TEC? Not only that, an engineer who had decided several years ago that working in this sector – because he had been previously employed by the TRHA – that working in this sector was not his cup of tea and he left. So what has prompted him to return? Has he retooled his skillset? Has he now come into some sort of medical administration qualification? How was he recruited?”
Ashworth Jack accused the authority of not being prepared.
“When the entire world is preparing or dealing with this coronavirus, Tobago is in a place where we have an interim CEO who is more suited and into building buildings than dealing with healthcare.
"Then you have no policy direction, in terms of a secretary. I hope that someone says that the rest of the Executive Council will give us policy direction on this, I really hope so,” he said, noting he as also concerned about the preparedness of the island’s first responders and a proper quarantine centre as well as the response of health professionals.
He said Tobago is “very, very fortunate” to have been given two months' headway in terms of preparations. He pointed out that China was first hit by the illness and because of its system of government, it was able to put in place a number of policy decisions and implement them in a way few places in the world would be able to do.
“There are going to be the doubting Thomases that would say that it won’t come. That is what they’re hoping, that the best-case scenario is that we don’t get it, and that means that we are extremely lucky.
"It’s coming closer and closer to home all the time. I don’t know if we understand the danger of one case of corona(virus) in Tobago,” he said.
Jack said while he is informed that when an international flight lands at the ANR Robinson Airport, there is a check for temperature, he questioned if the same check is done when domestic flights land.
“I know it can be very time-consuming to check every individual, but it saves lives.
“My recommendation would be that every individual that comes off at either of our ports of entry – in the case of Tobago, the ANR Robinson International Airport and the Scarborough Port – every individual should be checked,” the TOP leader said.
He also pointed to the economic implications for Tobago.
“If Tobago records one case of covid19, I can bet you a number of major players in Europe and the US will issue travel advisories discouraging their citizens from coming to Tobago,” he said.
He wants the entire TRHA board to step down, accusing it of having failed to prepare the island for covid19.