One day after residents of Brooklyn Settlement, Sangre Grande circulated a petition calling on the authorities to meet with them before relocating recovering COVID-19 patients to a step-down facility in the area, it was reported that Sangre Grande has recorded its first case of the virus.
Guardian Media understands a maxi-taxi driver tested positive and was on Thursday picked up by police officials as he plied his maxi for hire.
As news spread throughout the area, the already traumatised residents of Brooklyn Settlement said their fears had now been magnified, as they spoke of the contact tracing procedures that will now have to be done by the Ministry of Health to determine who the driver may have inadvertently exposed.
Meanwhile, copies of the petition, which was signed by 78 residents, were emailed and also hand-delivered to Eastern Regional Health Authority CEO Ronald Tsoi-a-Fatt, the Office of the President and the United Nations in Port-of-Spain on Thursday.
The first paragraph of the six-page document reads: “The members of Brooklyn Community are not in support of the housing of COVID patients amongst our close-knit family for a number of reasons stated in our constitutional rights.”
The text continued, “It is public knowledge that persons of all ages can be infected by the coronavirus and the older people and people with pre-existing medical conditions appear to be more vulnerable.
“The population of our close-knit community, our prized possession is our elderly with there being an 80 per cent ratio of same.”
Referring to guidelines as laid out by the World Health Organisation urging persons of all ages to take precautions to protect themselves, the residents also cited recent concerns internationally that the virus may now have become airborne.
As a result, they insisted, “The proposed decision to house recovering (not medically cleared) COVID-19 patients in the Brooklyn community is perceived by us the residents as endangering our public safety rights and aimed to deprive our community of our rights to live life and the enjoyment of property as we will all be forced to live in fear.”
Unsettled by claims late Thursday that patients would begin arriving in the area from Friday, some of the residents complained of feeling abandoned by the Government as they expressed feelings of neglect.
One woman said, “It is almost like our feelings on this doeAsn’t matter to them. We feel like they have taken this decision and because they feel it is the right one, we just have to accept their word and do what they say even though our rights are being violated.”
Guardian Media understands that plans had been underway for soldiers to occupy the Brooklyn Community Centre, which is a short distance from the step-down facility at Bridge Road, as they would have been required to provide security for the recovering patients.
However, officials from the Brooklyn Settlement Village Council confirmed last night said the keys had been returned to them on Thursday.
One member said when questions had initially been raised regarding payment of the utilities during the soldiers’ stay, no answer had been given. However, he confirmed that when officials were again asked to provide an answer in writing the keys were returned to the council.