Trinidadians living abroad are appealing to TT to heed government's safety measures and take the threat of COVID-19 "much more seriously."
Newsday got some insight into what they are experiencing and their views on how TT is dealing with this global threat. To date TT has 78 cases of infections and three deaths due to the covid19.
FROM THE UK:
Neidi Lee-Sing, a former journalist, shared some of what her family and friends in the UK have willingly practised in their personal attempts to keep safe from the virus.
in east London.
To date, close to 20,000 people are infected in the UK and over 1,200 have died. Reports are that 140 patients have recovered.
As of yesterday, Lee-Sing said, the UK is set for a stringent six-month lockdown.
Lee-Sing recalled when the UK recorded its first few cases, people flouted earlier guidelines for social distancing and keeping off the streets. She feels most people are now adhering to the new measures, which include staying indoors, not gathering in crowds, and closing businesses and anywhere which encouraged gatherings.
Lee-Sing, the mother of one, has to home school her daughter, Alexandria, while her husband, who works in the essential services, is working both from home and at the office. They quickly had to adopt a daily regime to keep their home safe.
Lee-Sing recalled the country also struggled a bit with panic-buying.
She had been away from work the week before and was able to stock up on basics. Prices went up and finding basic items such as flour was hard.
Lee-Sing sent Newsday photos of supermarkets in the UK.
"Panic buying, like what we are seeing happening in Trinidad is a sure way for the spread of any virus. That will do exactly the opposite of what the government is trying to do, which is curb the spread of covid19, by keeping people away from each other. Why can't people see that?" she lamented.
"Everything is a joke for Trinis. They need to grow up and be serious on this one."
Another UK-based Trinidadian, who requested anonymity, works in the essential services and has to leave her home for work daily.
The mother of two, who lives
in Birmingham, described TT citizens as simply "selfish."
"It's why I won't rush to come back TT to live. Here they are disciplined. They will follow the rules if it's a national issue. It just makes sense."
She said measures there include no more than two people gathering, moving around in public or socialising at any time.
Government, she said, has given them four basic rules to live by: exercise daily, get fresh sunlight, don't go out unless it is absolutely necessary, and do not gather in large numbers.
Breaking the rules, she said, if broken can result in a fine or orders from the police to disperse immediately.
"Simply put, it means: get straight home, break up the group. Go home and stay there."
Her children are learning at home, both through home-schooling and work sent in by their teachers.
"We are adjusting, adapting and surviving this pandemic. It is the only way to try to not become infected and become a global statistic," she said.
FROM THE US:
In early February, Chrystal Tsoia-Sue, who was born in Trinidad and lives
in Atlanta, Georgia, spent four days at hospital.
A clinical therapist and founder of the NGO Saving Our Nation, which focuses on victims/survivors of human trafficking and sexual abuse, suffered a health scare that led to her being tested for covid19.
Tsoia-Sue, who has lupus, had to be hospitalised with severe pneumonia, which has almost identical symptoms to coronavirus. She believes they could easily be mistaken for each other.
She thanks God her battle with pneumonia – severe enough for her to think she was dying – happened in February. She was eventually discharged and sent home, where she stayed for 14 days, while being taken care of by her immediate family only.
Tsoia-Sue said she feels "for sure" that she would have been listed as a case had she fallen ill now, while cases and death rates continue to rise daily across the US.
She is disappointed with the complacent attitude she has seen across the world, including TT.
In Queens, New York, a woman of Trinidadian and Guyanese parentage cautioned the people of TT to not be as complacent as US citizens had been.
The woman, who requested anonymity, said the virus hit the US in late December/early January and people went about their day as if it were business as usual.
This, she said, is what allowed the virus to spread rampantly. One hospital, she said, last Wednesday recorded 13 deaths in 24 hours.
"No one – certainly not government– took it seriously. Now it's over 500 deaths in New York City alone. We believe there will soon be a serious lockdown in New York as a result."
Now social distancing has become the norm, with people sitting as much as six feet apart on buses and trains. She said some people re still bent on not following the mandate to keep their distance and there is sometimes a pile-up at supermarkets.
The woman said she has opted to stay away from her job for over two weeks now.
As for her family in Guyana, she said she has kept tabs on her lone relative, who is taking all necessary precautions to stay safe.
"Please listen to your authorities. Stay at home. Don't go visiting family, don't allow anyone to come visiting. If you do go out, it MUST be only if absolutely necessary.
"Sanitise when you do, but wash your hands regularly even while at home. Leave your shoes outside, wash your hands immediately upon return. Take off your clothes, wash it.
"This is no movie. It's not just going to disappear because God is a Trini.
"The only way to save lives and stop it spreading like over here and in other countries, is to do what you are told and stay at home, away from others. Keep, safe TT."
Bonnie Khan, a former journalist, lives
in Venice, Italy.
Khan has a blog and has been featured in local news about the catastrophe Italy is suffering. Thousands have been infected and hundreds more are dying daily.
Khan, her husband and son, have adapted to a new daily routine while staying indoors.
She has been speaking out on social media and admonishing others to do the same.
It is three weeks since their national lockdown began. They leave home once or twice weekly, but only when absolutely necessary.
"Each time we go out it's with a feeling of fear and paranoia and our aim is always to get back in quickly. This way of living has to end. It will only end if people stay at home. So please, just stay home," she urged.