EMOTION cannot be the yardstick by which people are allowed to enter TT, as the covid19 pandemic is now at its most dangerous levels ever outside this country’s borders, the Prime Minister told a briefing at the Diplomatic Centre, St Ann’s, on Monday.
Saying 8,000-10,000 TT nationals in transit were shut out of TT, Dr Rowley said just one infected person entering TT could be a superspreader, creating a national calamity.
His remarks came the day after 61-year-old Trinidadian Joanne Pantin’s tearful plea on social media to be let inT from Miami, Florida where she said she is living in one room and her money has run out.
“The policy cannot be who gets on television first and who cries on television,” the PM said, without naming anyone.
He said the Government cannot see faces when making its decisions on readmission of citizens.
Rowley warned that if the decisions were made on a personal level, they would be based on emotion and let in people from heavily infected areas, putting TT’s population at risk from infection.
“Every single day Florida has been reporting an increased level of infection,” he pointed out. “It does not take a boatload of persons to infect TT. All you want is one person, a superspreader.”
Saying the Government will not act irresponsibly, he recalled that in South Korea one person in a bar sent the whole country back into lockdown.
He said people will be readmitted according to how many can be handled.
Rowley said nobody abroad has been abandoned or punished, but that the Government is trying to protect everybody’s lives, especially those within TT’s borders.
“It is disappointing to see emotion is the yardstick in how we respond to the virus. The virus is still a danger, especially if you have to import people from what might be the most infected area in the world,” he said, apparently referring to the US.
Rowley said people won’t be readmitted on hte basis of who has the money to hire a private jet, because if they are sick they will still have to go to a public hospital.
He said he understood people’s distress, as he had lived with the trauma of having his own daughter at ground zero in New York not being allowed back in to TT. Saying the Government understands what people are going through, he said they will do their best to minimise the pain and suffering of those outside.
He told listeners to ask themselves what they want for TT, alluding to a potential calamity, and saying this has been averted by the steps taken by the Government. “We make that decision in defence of 1.3 million people.”
Rowley alleged a very small percentage of people see the border closure as an opportunity to create confusion He said they do not have TT’s interest at heart, but see an opportunity to advance their own agendas.