PAULA LINDO AND ELIZABETH GONZALES
The Cabo Star cargo ferry returned to service after a period in quarantine on Thursday morning.
A crew member with flu-like symptoms was tested and found to have a lower respiratory tract infection.
Chief Medical Officer (CMO) Dr Roshan Parasram said the person was not suspected of having covid19.
He said the man, a local, was taken to the Port of Spain General Hospital and assessed.
The patient had no recent travel history. Parasram said he was assured by medical experts at the hospital that the person was suffering from a normal lower respiratory tract infection as a result of a normal flu-like illness or cold.
He said the vessel and its partners were held out of an abundance of caution until the results were received.
The CMO said the passengers' contact information had been taken and the county medical officer would be in contact with them, so on the off-chance they developed symptoms the medical professionals would be able to advise them appropriately. Passengers will not be asked to self-quarantine, as there was no suspicion of covid19.
He said the crew, who started a two-week shift on Sunday, would remain on board for future sailings. The only people to move on and off the boat would be the truckers in charge of the cargo trucks. Both the crew and the truckers are to be contacted by the county medical officer.
CEO of the Inter-Island Ferry Service Vilma Lewis Cockburn said the vessel was sanitised before it was put back into operation, and no passengers, other than the crew and truckers, would be allowed on board for a minimum of 48 hours, to allow for continuous assessment of the situation.
Interviewed earlier on Thursday, one trucker said he wasn’t panicking because the growing number of confirmed cases in TT is "the least of our worries."
He said the passengers were told about the issue after the boat docked in Trinidad around 6am. Two ambulance crews, accompanied by police, boarded the boat and the passengers and crew members were medically examined.
Tobagonian, Kernon Sebro, told Newsday he isn't too worried about the virus. He is more concerned about the impact it could have on his livelihood.
"I feel normal about this whole thing.
"I just hope the person don't have the virus, because if he has the virus it's 14 days I'll be quarantined in Trinidad.
"We didn't see the person, they told us we cannot come downstairs, and we just see police and ambulance take the person and carried him away.”
President of the Truckers and Traders Association, Horace Amede, told Newsday the decision by the port to not transport any passengers on the Cabo Star for 48 hours "is not about what the truckers want or don't want, it’s what is best for the entire country."
He said he is in discussion with port officials to reduce the number of passengers transported on the Cabo Star to maintain social distancing.
Amede said the port's decision will be a burden for truckers who load their trucks in Port of Spain at night. "It will be difficult because there's no other way to get goods to and from Tobago. Coming up won't be a problem because the ferry leaves Trinidad in the day, but there's no fast ferry leaving Tobago when they board their trucks on the boat.
"We still have to get goods to Tobago somehow, and the drivers have to pick them up and get back. If they go down on the fast boat, it will create a time barrier for the truckers.
This story was originally published with the title "Cabo Star passengers disembark after screening" and has been adjusted to include additional details. See original post below.
Passengers onboard the Cabo Star ferry on Thursday morning were screened and their information taken before they were allowed to disembark.
A crew member showed flu-like symptoms of the covid19 virus while the vessel, which mainly carries cargo, sailed to Trinidad on Wednesday night.
One trucker told Newday he isn't panicking because the growing number of confirmed cases in TT is "the least of our worries."
He said the passengers were told about the issue after the boat docked in Trinidad, around 6am on Thursday.
Two ambulance crews accompanied by police boarded the boat and the vitals of all passengers and crew members were checked.
The sick man was taken away by ambulance.
It was not until 10 am that passengers were allowed to disembark. Newsday was told health workers are expected to contact them in the next two days for an update.
Tobagonian Kernon Sebro told Newsday he isn't too worried about the virus. He is more concerned about the impact it could have on his livelihood.
"I feel normal about this whole thing.
"I just hope the person don't have the virus because if he has the virus it's 14 days I'll be quarantined in Trinidad.
"We didn't see the person, they told us we cannot come downstairs, and we just see police and ambulance take the person and carried him away.
"I know for sure he was not a trucker, he's from the foreign crew that came with the boat."
After they were allowed to disembark, he said: "They test our pressure, temperature and other things before we come off the boat. They took our contact number and address, so in case anything happens to us in the next two to three days, they will contact us."
He said the other truckers were hoping that it is a common cold and not covid19 when the announcement was made.
"That will be problems for us, because it's 14 days we cannot go home to our family. This is my job. I I have to come to Trinidad...I need to take the chance, but it's a 50/50."