PM: US no example for TT covid19 response

Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley. PHOTO COURTESY TT PARLIAMENT   -
Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley. PHOTO COURTESY TT PARLIAMENT -

THE PRIME Minister said the US is no example for TT when it comes to national covid19 responses.

He was responding to a prime minister's question in the House on Friday.

Caroni East MP Dr Tim Gopeesingh asked if Government was doing enough testing for decision-making, based on international standards and comparative analysis.

Dr Rowley replied that he did not know what international standards Gopeesingh was referring to.

"All countries are learning as we go on this matter."

He explained that each country's testing programme is tailored to suit the situation in the particular country. He said he was confident about the testing programme in TT being suitable for the country going forward.

"But in our condition, as opposed to other people's condition."

Gopeesingh said the US is testing three per cent of the population while TT was testing 0.07 per cent (he did not provide the source of his information) and asked the Prime Minister how he felt as leader of the country with that "small" level of testing.

Rowley replied: "As I have said before, the Government of TT takes its guidelines from the public health experts in TT, who have distinguished themselves in giving their government expert successful advice, and we are grateful for that.

"We are not comparing ourselves with the United States, who have taken a completely different approach, and is getting a completely different result. The US is no example for us."

The prime minister's question was on how the decision to keep small and medium businesses closed, while allowing fast food establishments and conglomerates to open daily until 8pm, was helping to decrease the spread of the coronavirus.

Rowley said the decision to open or to leave closed certain businesses was based on the management of numbers of people, and movement and people in response to the knowledge of how the virus is spread. He said food establishments and restaurants being open in Phase 1 included all categories of small, medium and large food establishments.

"Also, food establishments were chosen in Phase 1 because food establishments and their employees therein have long been required to be licensed in keeping with the public health ordinance. And therefore the public health inspectorate...have oversight of these establishments and have been enforcing infectious disease guidelines for many years, and as such (these) were the best place to continue the enforcement measures relating to food services."

Barataria/San Juan MP Dr Fuad Khan asked, based on data from the Health Ministry on no new cases and no new deaths, why the small and medium enterprises that are suffering economic damage were not given a chance at survival, as other businesses had been in Phase 1.

Rowley replied that as the nation "exposes ourselves" in reopening during this stay-at-home period, the country is dealing with the nature and quantum of risk involved and the management of numbers. He pointed out that a number of phases had been laid out as more and more people are brought out. He said he has been at pains to point out that the approach is one where the risk is being measured as more and more people are exposed.

"And based on the results of the national testing programme, we will determine how fast we go with this, or how slowly we go."


"PM: US no example for TT covid19 response"

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