CHIEF Medical Officer (CMO) Dr Roshan Parasram, epidemologist Dr Avery Hinds and Commissioner of Police (CoP) Gary Griffith on Monday warned anyone planning to stage or participate in party activity over what would have been Carnival that they cannot cheat the risk of contracting and spreading covid19.
Parasram and Hinds said similar to Christmas, unnecessary gatherings over Carnival have the potential to become covid19 super-spreader events. With signs of an increase in daily covid19 cases after Christmas and a new strain of the virus appearing around the world, Hinds said this is no time for "pandemic fatigue."
Griffith said the police are aware that a number of promoters are using social media to plan parties which could become mass gatherings/super-spreader events, but this will not be allowed. He said the police will intensify their patrols and deal with such gatherings wherever they occur.
At the virtual health news conference, Parasram declared, "In general, we are concerned with any event occurring during a pandemic that causes people to congregate in large numbers and don't abide by the guidelines, meaning that they don't wear a mask and they don't abide by social distancing.
"So we are concerned with any event, whether it be Christmas or any other event that occurs, that causes that to happen. because inevitably, you will get an increasing number of cases, you will get an increase in morbidity and mortality from covid19."
Reiterating that mass gatherings allow covid19 to spread quickly, Parsaram observed, "As you have seen for other parts of the world that have the new strain, actually it is moving more quickly between people in those scenarios."
Noting that Carnival is another "mass gathering season," Hinds said people must refrain from their customary activities, just as they were supposed to during Christmas. "We can't cheat the virus. There aren't loopholes that we can exploit that will allow us to escape the consequences of inadvisable gatherings."
He warned, " Whatever we do will show up in increased numbers, if we do not abide by very strict guidelines that we have been holding to." Hinds reminded citizens that while many of them may be tired of covid19 , "The virus is not tired of us."
He said over the last two days, "We are now beginning to see slightly larger numbers of cases per day than we had seen throughout the early part the year, throughout the first seven days or so."
While the daily number of cases earlier in the first week of January was betwen eight and 12, Hinds said cases are rising into the 20s.
He concluded "This may very well be as a result of any of the gathering and congregational activities that may have occurred two weeks ago, two weeks ago basically being the beginning of the Christmas festivities."
Hinds hoped this was not the start of a rising trend of covid cases.
Instead, he said, "We do note the beginnings of an increase and we do note that they may very well be related to whatever activities took place behind the scenes over the Christmas period."
In a statement, Griffith said police acted immediately to shut down a party at a restaurant in Chaguanas on Saturday.
He also said people have been putting videos and pictures of parties/super-spreader events on social mediawhich may not
Griffith also said the police immediately shut down an event at Tyrico Bay on Sunday as soon as they received information about it.
He reminded both party promoters and citizens that "the country is still facing the covid19 pandemic and that positive cases are still being recorded."
Referring to section 4(1) of the public health regulations, Griffith said it is an offence for people to gather at any river, stream, pond or similar body of water for recreational purposes; operate a dancehall licensed under the Theatres and Dancehalls Act; operate a party boat or club; and hold public parties or fetes.
He also said section 3(1) of the regulations says the number of people who gather at a public place, without reasonable justification, must not exceed ten.
These recent public events, he added, included more than ten people. Also, they were not wearing masks and were ticketed in accordance with the law.
He reiterated, "The covid19 virus is still with us, and such behaviour from members of the public can only lead to the virus being spread, with more persons being affected."
He said from December 31 to now there had been an increase in parties, and appealed to the public to call 999 or WhatsApp 482-GARY as soon as they become aware of any event that has the potential to be a mass gathering.