On March 12, 2020, Trinidad and Tobago reported its first case of covid19.
That was the name of the still-mysterious illness caused by a new variant of the common and often relatively harmless coronavirus. The technical name of this “novel” – new – coronavirus was severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2).
By then, much of the rest of the world was already in its grip. It was just a matter of time before it reached TT, and the country knew it.
At the end of January 2020, the President had declared covid19 a “dangerous infectious disease.” By March 1, restrictions on travel from a number of badly affected countries had been put in place.
On March 11, the World Health Organization declared covid19 a global pandemic.
Life in TT has not been the same since.
Effective vaccines that reduce the spread and the severity of the disease were developed and made available sooner than anyone dared hope.
But vaccine resistance, vaccine inequities and new variants meant the disease ran wild through many countries.
Here in TT we saw increasingly drastic and widespread measures being taken to hold back the pandemic: lockdowns; the country barricading its borders against the world; the closure of schools, businesses, government agencies; a parallel healthcare system set up to deal solely with the virus; mask-wearing – measures that changed and were relaxed or tightened as the virus waxed and waned and evolved, and scientific thinking about the virus grew and evolved along with it.
Thousands of people died; thousands more had their lives changed forever. Many have lost loved ones. Some have missed out on education. Some have lost a job or a business. Others are suffering from mental-health issues for the first time as a result of the chaos, the stress, the isolation or the unpredictability caused by the pandemic.
Here Newsday takes a look back at the trauma and upheaval the country has collectively endured, as TT enters its third year of living with covid19 – while the country and world remain uncertain what the pandemic may yet bring.
Visit our covid19 in TT tab for more stories.