A war of words developed between Opposition leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar and the ruling People’s National Movement yesterday, after Persad-Bissessar sniped at the Ministry of Health’s measures on the latest spike in COVID-19 infections.
Persad-Bissessar said she was quite surprised the Health Ministry had not yet comprehensively announced any new and urgent contingency measures to protect citizens from the new wave of infections.
In a Facebook statement, Persad-Bissessar said, “I expect (the Ministry) will see the need to do this as soon as possible, in the interest of keeping our citizens safe.
“Given their colossal failure in implementing an adequate testing policy, I especially hope that they move to swiftly ensure that they undertake a series of rapid, widespread testing of the population, to offset what is clearly an impending crisis.’’
She noted that the ministry had announced “...A whopping 78 new cases of COVID-19. This is cause for concern and requires serious precautions to curb this deadly virus.”
“This is particularly important, given the fact that our already failing public health care system will be put under further stress and therefore cannot effectively deal with any COVID crisis at this time. The lives of citizens are therefore at serious risk,” Persad-Bissessar wrote.
She also told supporters, “While you enjoy your weekend, please be mindful of this very serious public health threat and obey all public health guidelines and regulations at all costs. We must all do our very best to protect ourselves. Please remember to wear your masks, sanitise and ensure you engage in proper, stern social and physical distancing at all costs.”
Her statement was accompanied by a previous photo of her in a red dress wearing a mask.
But PNM Communication manager Laurel Lezama-Lee Sing immediately slammed Persad-Bissessar’s criticisms over the Government’s handling of the pandemic.
“She is holding T&T hostage to the UNC’s recount of election results, which has delayed the appointment of a new Government to even meet in Cabinet, yet she talks about a ‘crisis’?’’ Lezama-Lee Sing said.
“PNM chairman Colm Imbert on Thursday explained that until the recounts demanded by UNC are completed and the Elections and Boundaries Commission publishes the results, the new government cannot take office. Though the Prime Minister and ministers of 2015/2020 remain in place until a new government is appointed, Cabinet decisions and other things that are needed for this new term can’t be made.”
She added, “SEA exams for 20,000 students are due next week. The Education Ministry needs to ensure exams are executed as best as possible given the circumstances - but Mrs Persad-Bissessar isn’t allowing the ministry or others to operate.
“Budget preparations have to be done, Independence and Republic Day preparations are due, yet our independence is being stifled by UNC. Her strategy to delay things and hold T&T hostage to highlight her profile—and her struggle for survival—is pure selfishness.”
Lezama-Lee Sing said Persad-Bissessar’s claim about a ‘failing’ health system was also an insult to hard-working health workers and Chief Medical Officer Dr Roshan Parasram who’ve worked diligently since January on the COVID issue.
“She (Persad-Bissessar) has the audacity to try to denigrate the system after she said sunlight killed COVID, she held a mass meeting in El Socorro on the Saturday before election, she was consistently seen campaigning without a mask and had to be urged by experts and supporters to wear one—plus she refused to warn UNC supporters not to gather to observe results,” Lezama-Lee Sing said.
“Mrs Persad-Bissessar’s irresponsibility was reflected in election outcomes. Her ‘advice’ comes too late. She needs to stop holding T&T back and let life move on.”