TT is halfway to meeting its target of reopening the economy and its borders, at least regionally, as the average daily infection rate is expected to fall just below 40 new covid19 cases a day.
On October 17, Epidemiologist Dr Avery Hinds said the daily rate needed for TT to be part of the regional travel bubble was 20. This figure needed to be consistent for a period before there could be intra-regional flights.
On the same day, the Prime Minister during his media address at the Diplomatic Centre St Ann’s said once the infection rate drops there will be consideration to open back the country and borders which have been closed since March 22. He said then that the reason the government was working to reduce the numbers of positive cases was to ensure TT can enjoy Halloween (October 31), Divali (November 14) and Christmas.
He said then: “The worst Christmas we can possibly have, is one where we will be overrun by covid19. We are hoping that sacrifice we are making now will put us in a position where we will very cautiously acknowledge these three events without allowing these events to become seasons of spikes and turnarounds.”
On Saturday, Hinds said the rate of infection now seems to be flattening. Referencing his graphs, Hinds said the transmission of the virus for the last month was an average in the high 40’s and trending downwards but seemed to have plateaued around 40.
“The main takeaways from the entomological situation at present is as follows, if we’re seeing a plateau, we are not really going down very quickly, we are going down very slowly, if at all.”
Hinds said this information suggests that the behaviour of citizens towards the virus is “just keeping the virus bubbling slowly, somewhere along the line.”
“The projection we have for the end of this week, that there should be, compared to last week, approximately a 30 to 31 per cent decline. We are seeing the decrease but what we are pointing out is that it is not been coming as fast as it had been previously. We are seeing a sort of a steady state so we will need to change some behaviours and enhance some behaviours in order to get it to go down further.”
Rowley is expected to address the nation on Saturday and it is anticipated that some of remaining restrictions, particularly the reopening of bars, restaurants, beaches, gyms will be lifted.
The last lifting of the restrictions saw the opening of tours in Buccoo Reef and Caroni Bird Sanctuary. Rowley also increased the number of flights to and from Tobago from two to six and increased the number of people that can attend funerals from 10 to 20. People were now allowed to gather in groups of 10 up from five. Last Monday the Barkeepers and Operators Association of TT (BOATT) called on the government to lift all restrictions citing the World Health Organization (WHO) latest advice.
The WHO last week appealed to governments to lift lockdown measures as it only created more poverty. BOATT said with physical distancing and mandatory mask wearing legislation and the WHO advice, any continued lockdown is unjust.