A Trinidad and Tobago Electricity Commission (TTEC) employee who was suspected of contracting COVID-19 and was tested a week ago is still awaiting his test results.
However, the employee may have pontentially exposed at four colleagues to the virus. The situation with the five employees, who are currently unwell and exhibiting flu-like symptoms, is said to be causing jitters among other staff and the Oilfields Workers’ Trade Union (OWTU).
OWTU vice-president Peter Burke said on Sunday that the employees are unwell and have been self-quarantining at their homes while two people from the group had so far been tested. The other three are awaiting the outcome of those tests before being tested themselves, he said.
“I don’t know why the Government is being so stingy with their testing,” Burke said in an interview.
He said the first worker who complained of feeling unwell and was tested a week ago was still awaiting results yesterday.
“The company doctor gave him medication and he has been quarantined at home, taking the meds and is starting to improve. At one point he was doing so badly that he was hospitalised,” Burke said.
But now with the medication working and the employee on the mend, Burke is wondering why the state is taking so long to produce the man’s results.
“Is it a case of waiting until he is better so we don’t know whether he had it or not?” Burke asked.
He said employee believes he was first exposed when he reported to a sub-station in Port-of-Spain that needed emergency repairs. The same crew got called out again when there was another transformer issue days later.
“He could have exposed the crew because they are all unwell and we don’t know if they have it,” Burke said, claiming T&TEC has provided PPE gear but it was “sub-standard”.
Burke said he did not think the company was doing enough to protect workers during the pandemic. He said when the worker got ill he was tended to by the company doctor and sent home but not directed to contact the Ministry of Health or CMO’s office.
“The company doctor calls him daily to check on him but to date, no test results, no contact tracing,” he said.
Guardian Media yesterday sent questions about the issue to T&TEC’s general manager Kelvin Ramsook.
Guardian Media later received a message from T&TEC’s communication manager, Annabelle Brasnell, which read: “My information is that our company doctor has not been engaged.”
Brasnell said the question about the delayed results should be directed to the Ministry of Health.
On whether the employee should return to work when the quarantine period ends even without a test result, Brasnell advised, “The employee should continue to liaise with their manager/supervisor on their possible return to work. T&TEC will continue to be guided by the MoH on COVID-19 related issues and I have no reason to doubt that the Ministry would provide the necessary guidance.”
Guardian Media called Minister of Health Terrence Deyalsingh but he asked to be texted instead and then did not respond when Guardian Media complied.
Guardian Media also contacted Chief Medical Officer (CMO) Dr Roshan Parasram but he too did not comment.