A secretary from the United National Congress’ Couva North MP’s office and her family are among those tested for COVID-19. As such, the rest of the office staff is now quarantined and other Couva North election campaigners who may have been alongside the woman are now on alert.
This was confirmed by staffers and Couva North constituency officials yesterday. The woman is a relative of a Central Trinidad man who works with ANSA McAL—who recently tested positive.
UNC Couva North candidate Ravi Ratiram yesterday declined to deny or confirm reports from UNC activists that the woman was part of recent Couva North campaigning, including last Sunday’s events and motorcade. He said there was no “secretary” in his office but there was one in the Couva North MP’s office. Ratiram said he was in a meeting and didn’t reply subsequently.
Couva North chairman Orlando Nagessar confirmed the woman is the secretary in the MP’s office in Chase Village. He also confirmed she’s a member of the Couva North executive, “But that executive hasn’t met since (Ratiram) was selected and he’s appointed a new campaign team.”
Nagessar said he hadn’t spoken to the woman (but plans to) and couldn’t say if she’d informed the new candidate of her situation.
After word of the situation officially arose on Tuesday, Guardian Media learned the Ministry of Health tested the person. Possible infection is being traced from July 19-20. The person lives in a house with her two children, father and husband.
The woman’s last working day at the office was reportedly towards the end of last week. UNC officials said the woman did tell some colleagues “upfront” that her husband was quarantined for COVID and they told her to stay home.
The ministry has ordered that the entire eight-member staff of the MP’s Chase Village office be quarantined at home for 14 days. The ministry contacted staffers to sanitise the office on Thursday but was referred to the Parliament, which closed the office on Tuesday.
However, the office closure had been scheduled from before and had nothing to do with the suspected COVID case. Parliament officials have been making the rounds of T&T in the last two weeks—continuing yesterday—closing MP’s offices as the August 10 election to choose new MPs draws nearer.
Before Parliament officials arrived on Tuesday afternoon, they were alerted that a staff member was quarantined for COVID and to beware of possible risk. Parliament officials said they had to close the office as per protocol and went to do so equipped with masks.
Officials said Couva North staff were not in the office much in recent weeks and there had been little activities since people were out campaigning. Outgoing MP Ramona Ramdial hasn’t been to the office, as she’s been campaigning with the La Horquetta/Talparo candidate.
However, some UNC activists have expressed concern that they have to wait 14 days and can only be tested if they show symptoms. Colleagues of the secretary are eagerly awaiting the end of their quarantine, since they recognise they are secondary and primary contacts of the person. They also expressed concern about team sports after they noted a Central resident they knew manifested symptoms after a recent all-fours tournament in Lopinot, where another tournament player contracted the virus and is currently being treated for it.
After the upsurge in COVID cases—169 as of yesterday morning—UNC chairman Peter Kanhai called for people to wear masks, but UNC feels wearing masks on voting day shouldn’t be mandatory. The PEP party, however, is appealing for postponement of polls, noting almost one million people could be out on voting day.