People's National Movement (PNM) Tobago Council political leader Tracy Davidson-Celestine has been sworn in as a councillor in the Tobago House of Assembly (THA), replacing Dr Agatha Carrington, who resigned on February 28.
Davidson-Celestine will also take up the portfolio of Secretary in the Division of Health, Wellness and Family Development, which was also left vacant after Carrington's resignation
Her appointment as health secretary comes amid numerous challenges within the sector, not the least of which is the island's preparedness to fight the coronavirus.
An upbeat Davidson-Celestine said on Wednesday this will be among her priorities in the division.
"My first order of business, I will be going into the Division of Health and Wellness as the secretary. And so one of the first things will be to meet with the members of staff, especially those who are dealing with the preparation for corona, in the event that we should have a case here in Tobago, to see where things are and to see where we need to be in terms of ensuring that we are on top of our game going forward," she told reporters minutes after taking the oath of office at the Assembly Legislature in Scarborough.
The oath was administered on Wednesday by Presiding Officer Vanessa Cutting-Thomas during a special sitting in the Assembly Chamber.
Davidson-Celestine, who recently ended her stint as TT's Ambassador to Costa Rica, said the threat of the coronavirus will likely be considered in determining if Tobago will host its annual jazz festival, next month.
She said: "One of the things we have to look at if we are targeting international guests, of course, there will be an element of risk there. And we have to ensure we have our protocols in place here in Tobago so that in the event that anyone comes in with any sort of symptoms, if it is that we are staging the jazz festival, that we are able to treat with it within the shortest possible time frame."
Davidson-Celestine said she has observed several countries have already cancelled activities that would have caused international guests.
"So, perhaps we will have to follow suit when all has been taken into consideration."
She could not say if Tobago will host the jazz festival, its signature event.
"With jazz, I know last week the committee would have met with a view to looking at the possibilities. And there is no report yet. I would expect that before the end of this week information will be given to the public as to whether there will be a jazz festival or not."
Davidson-Celestine said one of the objectives of the jazz festival is to bring international and local visitors to Tobago.
"And if at this point, after the evaluation is done, jazz would not be able to achieve that objective then it makes no sense that we stage jazz."
Davidson-Celestine said she is not apprehensive about heading the health division.
"The thing is that I have been in the Tobago House of Assembly for well over 15 years and so no division at this point is challenging for me. I know that there are quite a lot of issues in health and, along with the staff, we can sort those issues out."
On her appointment as a councillor, Davidson-Celestine said: "I am very excited today. I have been looking forward to this since January 26 (winning the PNM internal election runoff) and so I am very excited. I want to continue to chart the course for the development of our people on this island."