Trinidad and Tobago COVID-19 response not better than other CARICOM member states

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Dear Sir

While Dr Keith Rowley continues to boast of his administration’s top-rated COVID-19 response, data shows that Trinidad and Tobago performance is no better than, and sometimes much worse than, our less-resourced CARICOM neighbours. And their comparatively commendable performance was achieved with little money.

When one looks at other CARICOM countries and how well they handled the COVID-19 crisis the facts speak for themselves.

  • Trinidad and Tobago had 142 cases, 128 recovered and 8 deaths.
  • Grenada had 23 cases, all 23 recovered and 0 deaths.
  • Dominica had 18 cases, 18 recovered and 0 deaths.
  • Saint Lucia had 24 cases, 22 recovered and 0 deaths.
  • St Vincent and the Grenadines had 52 cases, 37 recovered, 0 deaths.

All of these islands, when adjusted for COVID-19 tests performed per million of population, did considerably better than Trinidad and Tobago. For example, Trinidad and Tobago performed only 6,328 tests for a population of 1.4 million or 4,521 tests per million.

  • Grenada did 5,465 tests (just under ours) for a population of only 113,000 or 48,556 tests per million.
  • Saint Lucia did 13,458 COVID-19 tests per million.
  • Dominica did 13,959 tests per million.
  • St Vincent and the Grenadines did 14,428 tests per million. Our handling of COVID-19 cost us considerably more even if pro-rated.
  • *July 23, 2020 data

Our neighbours did not have at their disposal US$150 million from CAF, or US$124 million from the IDB, or the US$20 million from the World Bank, or the US $1.6 billion available from the HSF – that Dr Rowley’s administration has appropriated.

In other words, without the TT$6 billion that the minister of finance said COVID would cost Trinidad and Tobago.

Purely using the data, Dr Rowley must tell us what is the justification for their super expensive COVID-19 response, when regional states have achieved comparatively similar and even better COVID-19 results with much less?

What they have done is to increase our debt unnecessarily.

The World Health Organisation emphasized from the inception that the only way to defeat the virus is to conduct more tests. This government continues to practise limited testing and this puts Trinidad and Tobago in the unenviable position of not knowing the true extent of cases in Trinidad and Tobago.

What is even worse is the fact that other CARICOM member states were much more humane in welcoming their stranded citizens back home. They all took appropriate steps consistent with their circumstances to provide adequate quarantine arrangements for returning citizens. Many have opened their borders.

By contrast, Dr Rowley has left our citizens abroad much to their own devices. They had to beg and beseech Stuart Young who treated them almost as pariahs and not as citizens deserving respect and assistance.

The hypocrisy of it all was keeping our citizens out of the country while allowing hundreds, if not thousands of illegal immigrants from Venezuela to enter our country through our porous borders. ‘None were tested’.

Daily we are witness to increasingly boring health briefings which are nothing more than a taxpayer-funded exercise in political narcissism and undeserved self-praise.

Citizens have wisened up to this incompetent Dr Rowley-led Peoples National Movement (PNM) and cannot be fooled any longer. Many cannot wait until August 10, to give him and his government their marching orders.

Rodney Charles

Member of Parliament, Naparima

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