THE EDITOR: The novel coronavirus or covid19 has presented the world with challenges as never seen before. However, we have seen many governments, leaders and high officeholders rise to the occasion.
While initially in TT Prime Minister Rowley and Opposition Leader Persad-Bissessar did rise to the occasion to meet at the request of the latter, as citizens we must question if we are taking the right direction in defeating covid19.
We must question if the Government is taking a stellar approach or one with loopholes in the armour against covid19?
The major problem we must look at is: while the Prime Minister and his team often say “we are in this together,” they diminish this statement by their constant rejection of questions from the Opposition and the media, who are both undertaking their constitutional roles to raise issues on behalf of concerned citizens.
The Government has to understand that while a constituent living in a PNM-run constituency can have a concern facilitated by its Member of Parliament in government, the concerns of a worried individual in a UNC-held seat could only be echoed by an Opposition MP or someone in the media. Therefore many of the questions asked are not out of an absence of patriotism but rather the desire for our fears to be reduced.
So as we go forward as one people, the approach by the Government needs to be more inclusive.
We must understand that although we are grateful for some of the steps taken by the Government, there are many flaws in its plans which, had they been dealt with, could have made this fight against covid19 much easier.
The first instance which will always remain as a scar on our pandemic fight is the refusal by the Speaker to debate covid19 in our Parliament when it started to intensify. Had we debated it then, maybe the Government would not have made the grave mistake of only testing people with a travel history as the issues of community spread would have been discussed more in Parliament.
Today a great cause for concern remains our testing capacity. While we are on lockdown and borders are closed, accompanied by a host of other “big things” announced by the Prime Minister, it is important to note that we have only tested under 600 people out of a population of 1.4 million. In essence, we are yet to see the real impact of covid19 on our population.
I have seen the Opposition Leader and members of the media consistently call for the real facts on testing. I pray to God that the administration is not using the testing as a political tool to keep the numbers down. No one will blame it for covid19, but it has a duty to be transparent.
As we go forward in this crisis, let us continue to work as one. I hope the Government engages the media in a better fashion while also taking the advice of the Opposition.
Neither the Government nor citizens can fight this virus in isolation. It requires unity and transparency.