MINISTER of Health Terrence Deyalsingh made a startling disclosure on Tuesday.
Amid reports of government officials being among those who recklessly attended a posh wedding at Valsayn over the weekend, Mr Deyalsingh appeared not only to confirm the attendance of a government minister, but further disclosed having advance notice of that minister’s intention to attend the event.
“I advised the person not to do what he did – because he came to me for advice,” Mr Deyalsingh told reporters. At the same time, he qualified his statement by saying he did not know for sure what took place over the weekend.
Nonetheless, the minister’s disclosure suggests the possibility of a breakdown in discipline at the level of the Cabinet on a matter as grave as covid19. That is a cause for alarm. Particularly since the Prime Minister has already endured at least one covid19 scare.
The venue of Mr Deyalsingh’s revelation made it particularly pointed. He was speaking after the sod-turning of a $249 million building that will be the new seat of his ministry.
Several Cabinet members were present, including the Prime Minister, National Security Minister Stuart Young, and Public Administration Minister Allyson West.
Chief Medical Officer Dr Roshan Parasram was also at the ceremony, at which covid19 protocols were carefully observed.
If there were any doubt that the Valsayn wedding had come to the attention of the highest levels of the Cabinet, the PM himself dispelled it.
“This virus is no respecter of class or economic standing,” Dr Rowley sternly warned in an address at the event on Tuesday. “If a group of people, whether it’s 200 or 100 in a wedding in Valsayn – infect a number of people in this country…there will be a large number of people requiring medical care.”
Mr Deyalsingh has commendably signalled the State’s intention to activate resources at its disposal to police “super-spreader” events on private property. The State will rouse its network of public health inspectors to go into private gatherings, he said, and a task force is now in place to liaise with the police.
Yet such a task force is of little comfort unless and until the unnamed government bigshot is made to account for his or her actions which, it is now clear, were not only in direct contradiction of the Health Minister’s advice but also the policy of Cabinet as enunciated by Dr Rowley as recently as Tuesday.
Practise what you preach. Lead by example. Members of the Government know these edicts well. Both have been flagrantly breached by at least one among them.
Editor's note: In the editorial above, we suggested that Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh had appeared to confirm the presence of a government minister at a large wedding in Valsayn last weekend.
This was based on the comment the minister made immediately after being questioned about another, unspecified minister's possible attendance at the wedding: "I advised the person not to do what he did – because he came to me for advice, I know the person, I advised him not to do it."
The Corporate Communications Unit of the ministry has since informed us that "the person" to whom the minister was referring in this comment was the host of the wedding and not a Cabinet colleague.
We are happy to be able to provide this clarification.