For 68 Trinidad and Tobago nationals, they started off this month on a dream cruise in the Caribbean Sea but on Wednesday ended up in a 14-day quarantine in Balandra after the cruise was ruined by a suspected outbreak of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) on board.
Although their stay at the Balandra beach facility will include meals and other amenities, it’s not the all-inclusive they had in mind.
The nationals returned home on a chartered flight from Guadeloupe around noon yesterday and were immediately screened and tested at the Piarco International Airport. They were then taken to the temporary isolation camp in Balandra in a convoy led by members of the T&T Defence Force.
Speaking at yesterday’s post-Cabinet press conference at the Diplomatic Centre, St Ann’s, Minister of Health Terrence Deyalsingh said of the passengers sent to the camp, none showed any symptoms associated with COVID-19.
“We received 68 persons from that cruise ship. We have been able to absorb 68 people into a quarantine facility, with no disturbance to our normal healthcare facilities,” Deyalsingh said.
The passengers will be quarantined under close monitoring by medical officials for the 14-day period and medical officials will be rotated frequently to limit their exposure to possible contamination, he said.
The nationals were on board the Costa Favolosa that was forced to anchor off of Guadeloupe for several days after being denied entry to Martinique because officials there feared for the safety of their citizens.
The ship, which can accommodate 2,968 passengers, belongs to Carnival Cruise Line and sails to the Caribbean Sea, Baltic Sea and the Mediterranean region.
In the early hours of yesterday morning, two female nationals who were also on the cruise returned home having tested positive for COVID-19. The women were met at the Piarco Airport and taken to quarantine at either the Caura Hospital or the Couva Hospital, which are the designated holding facilities for patients who test positive for the virus.
Deyalsingh said relatives and friends of those quarantined in Balandra can deliver items to the Eastern Regional Health Authority’s Sangre Grande Disaster Management Office on the Eastern Main Road so that they can be carried to the Balandra site.
Trinidad and Tobago has so far confirmed seven cases of COVID-19. All the cases thus far were contracted overseas.