THA Chief Secretary Farley Augustine says Tobago’s economy cannot survive another shutdown.
He was responding on Friday to the news that covid19 infections in the country are on the rise.
At a news conference on Thursday, hosted by the Prime Minister, at the Diplomatic Centre, St Ann’s, Dr Rowley announced there were no plans to disrupt Carnival even though covid19 cases are expected to increase within the next few weeks.
He urged citizens to take personal responsibility for their safety while enjoying the festivities.
Augustine said although he is extremely concerned about the rise in covid19 cases during the upcoming Carnival celebration, he is not surprised.
“If you look at what will happen with a virus of this nature is that you will always have spikes just as the flu virus,” he told reporters after addressing the United Nations Development Programme’s formal handover of the Main Ridge Visitor Centre solar installation to the THA in Parlatuvier on Friday.
“There are moments you don’t really hear about the flu and then there are moments some countries are grappling with the flu virus and its causing deaths.
“Similarly, with covid19, you will have mutating strains, evolving from time to time. I don’t think you will ever have a time when covid (19) will not be with us. The question is ‘How do we, as a society, live with it?’”
Augustine said living with the virus means that people must always adhere to the established health guidelines. These include the washing of hands, wearing of masks and isolating at home if one experiences flu-like symptoms.
He said Tobagonians must do all in their power to ensure that covid19 does not overwhelm the island.
Augustine recalled Tobago got its first international flight in January 2022 and only half of the number of pre-covid19 domestic flights in April for Easter.
“So we have not been fully opened for an entire year...We cannot afford another shutdown and given that our business is tourism-driven, people in Tobago should heed the call to be more cautious, more careful, pay attention to their hygiene and the washing of the hands in an effort to curb the numbers.”
In terms of new infections, Augustine said Tobago has been doing well.
“We have gone past the days when we were counting the number of deaths in Tobago and we want to keep doing well because the moment we are not doing well, it means that our accommodation sector will suffer and people will be cautious about travelling here. So there is an implication for tourism as well that we have to pay attention to.”
He suspects there will more than likely be the return of mandatory mask wearing if the number of cases increase.
“But at this point Tobago is not doing badly and we want to keep it that way as much as possible.”
On January 9, owing to the relatively low covid19 numbers on the island, the THA Division of Health, Wellness and Social Protection stopped issuing its weekly reports on the virus.