WHILE a decision is yet to be made on the staging of Carnival 2022, a former education minister is saying an outright "no" to any such plan.
The pandemic scuttled Carnival plans in 2021, but a conversation has begun about the possibility of staging some aspects of Carnival 2022. CEO of Southex Promotions George Singh has already said the Chutney/Soca Monarch contest will be held, albeit in keeping with health protocols.
Minister of Tourism, Culture and the Arts Randall Mitchell told the Senate on Monday that stakeholders such as Pan Trinbago, TUCO, TT Promoters, Carnival Band Association, were still being engaged, and a decision will soon be made with respect to hosting the event.
He said given the rapidly changing pandemic, the new variant, rate of infection and hospitalisation, no decision has yet been taken.
Former education minister Dr Tim Gopeesingh said it would be risky to host Carnival, given the 3,000-plus deaths from covid19, and the presence of the omicron variant increasing the threat.
To drive home his point, he used Johns Hopkins University findings which name Trinidad and Tobago as having the highest incidence of covid19 cases and death rate, per million in the world.
He said for the first eight days of the year 178 deaths were recorded and the death rate soared by 14,000 per cent from March 2020 to December 2021.
Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar also recalled that before the World Health Organization (WHO) declared a pandemic in 2020, the United National Congress (UNC) had begged the Government to call off Carnival 2020.
This was not done, she said, after which cases soared, “and now the Attorney General is planning for the mother of all Carnivals.”
Both were speaking at the UNC first Virtual Report for 2022 on Monday night.
Contradicting Minister of Health Terrence Deyalsingh, who attributed the delay in reporting to medical institutions as one factor in the increasing number of deaths, Gopeesingh said patients’ reluctance had to do with the poor reception at the covid19 tents at some hospitals.
He said about 60 patients, managed by one nurse and one junior doctor, are kept in hot tents, unable to see their families, unable to get a drink of water, medication or oxygen or something to lie on.
“Patients are afraid to go to the hospitals because they know when they go to the emergency tents, they have to wait for tests to be done, which...takes some five-six days.
“This is a crime against humanity. It is a slaughter against citizens and a callous disregard of human lives in these tents at emergency departments.”
He said cheap and effective drugs being manufactured in India are yielding results and suggested Foreign Affairs Minister Dr Amery Browne contact the Indian High Commission to secure the drugs and save lives.
Goopesingh took aim at CEO of the North Central Regional Health Authority (NCRHA) Davlin Thomas, referring to him as the “Carnival masman” and criticising his management of three hospitals, including the covid-dedicated Couva facilities.
This is one of the reasons he said there must be no Carnival in 2022.
Persad-Bissessar agreed, saying the number of covid deaths is akin to state-sanctioned murder.
She repeated her call for an enquiry into the management of covid19, saying a full commission would be established when her party got into government.