The coronavirus affects everyone, not just here in T&T, but across the globe. The virus, which first started in Wuhan, China, has caused thousands across the world to fall ill and be quarantined, there have been thousands of deaths and it has impacted financial markets.
It was only a matter of time before the virus would wend its way to the Caribbean where so far two cases have been reported.
This is a region known for tourists and recently T&T had its fair share for the Carnival festivities. Last week, Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley cautioned citizens not to be “naive” and believe that the virus could not reach here.
He did not want to cause panic but was pointing out the grim reality that this virus knows no bounds. Many citizens have friends and relatives living in Florida and other parts of the United States where the number of cases continues to rise and six people have died. The United Kingdom, Canada and other countries are not immune either. This is a global village and fear is a natural response to daily reports about the virus and its impact.
Locally the Ministry of Health has been doing what it can to keep the public informed. The sad reality is no matter what measures are put in place, there is a chance that the virus will find its way here. This country has the required testing kits, according to Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh, and quarantine facilities have been identified at the Caura and Couva Hospitals.
The seriousness of the impact of the virus caused Caricom officials, including Deyalsingh, to hold talks in Barbados last weekend to come up with a regional action plan. Caricom Chair, Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley, said an expanded bureau of Heads of Government has been established to marshal resources to protect the region from the virus.
Mottley noted that there is “no part of the world that will be spared . . . it is entirely in our capacity to manage and contain, we can do that—as small island states but it is going to require co-operation (and) partnership to detect, contain and manage the process.”
She acknowledged that this is “not an easy moment for any of us.” It really is not.
Yesterday, Caribbean Airlines assured it is working steadfastly to be well-prepared and has put in place measures which include: placing special safety kits on board all aircraft and at offices, monitoring air quality in its aircraft cabins and ensuring all aircraft are properly sanitised at all ports.
Citizens must take personal responsibility. Follow guidelines, which include avoiding touching eyes, nose and mouth, cover your mouth and nose with your bent elbow or tissue when coughing or sneezing, and if you have fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical care early. This is too serious a virus to take chances. Your health and the well-being of your family depend on it.