(Trinidad Express) – Following an announcement on Monday to restrict all food service inclusive of itinerant or street food as well as the opening of all non-essential retail businesses, Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley said the new measures come on the backdrop of surge in Covid-19 cases beginning to pose a serious threat to the country’s parallel healthcare system.
Speaking at a press conference at the Diplomatic Centre in St Ann’s, Rowley said: “Our healthcare system, designed to protect the population, is now in danger of being overrun because of the rate of infections we are experiencing.”
“I think Dr Richards (Maryam) told us if we are not able to supress the rate at which things are going now, we have healthcare dedicated to Covid to last us for 10 days in so far as hospital beds are concerned.”
He said if people have been following international news as it relates to Covid-19 surges in some countries, they would see how quickly the position can move from good, to bad, to woeful.
“If we don’t take certain actions that in a few days’ time, we will be where others have been. We haven’t been there yet, we’ve never been there.
“if we do not act now to do certain things given what has been generated through the population, the level of infections and the requirements for healthcare that that is demanding, if we do not act in an attempt to stymie the growth rate, we know where that will lead.
“We could do nothing and hope for the best. We could do a little more and not do enough, or we could by reasonable analysis do what we think will give us the kind of response that the circumstances require,” Rowley noted
The Prime Minister said the measures implemented are designed to address two things; the movement of people within the national community, and the gathering of people as they move about in the community, since those two actions are the facilitators of the infection rate increase.
“It matters not what you’re engaged in but if you’re engaged in an activity that facilitates the movement of people or the gathering of people, the Government has to see that as an area for restriction, otherwise, the common sense thing will not be done.”
He stated that it’s against that background last week lockdown measures were implemented to reduce the number of people who were coming out there, all for good reasons at the personal level.
However, Rowley said, the requirement is for persons not to come out if they don’t have to.
“Get with the programme that if it is not absolutely essential, then please don’t come out because then you become a part of the problem.
“And if you are engaged in a business that attracts people out or attract them to congregate, than that is also a part of the problem.”
He said it is not that he loves people less or that the doctors have become ogres but because they are responsible for citizens’ well-being, and this medicine is bitter and if people don’t take it the wages of it is death for some people.
“And for all those who put the economy out front, there is nobody in this country who is more concerned about the economy than the Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago. But what kind of economy are we going to preserve if the outcome of not intervening now with economic disruption, result in economic destruction in the face of a calamitous healthcare system and a large number of people sick and dead and dying. That is the option we face.
He said having taken the oath of office of Prime Minister, he has absolutely no qualms in doing what needs to be done to protect the lives of the people of Trinidad and Tobago.
“And as I am doing that, as if that’s not hard enough, I am also required to protect some aspect of the livelihoods of the people of Trinidad and Tobago.
“And for those who spend time describing this as some arbitrariness and some opportunity to be disagreeable or uncooperative, what I will say to you, I hear you because you’re still alive.”
The Prime Minister cross referenced statistic given by Dr Maryam Abdool Richards, Principal Medical Officer-Institutions, who earlier stated that the parallel healthcare system, which has a capacity of 542 beds to manage Covid-19 patients, currently has 260 Covid-positive patients in its hospitals, or about 60% of its capacity.
Richards stated that 14% of all new cases are being admitted to hospitals daily just 6.6% are being discharged.
She noted that if that trend continues, the parallel healthcare system could reach its capacity in just 10 day, and added that the ward occupancy mirrors hospital occupancy.