T&T Experts say keep COVID-19 travel restrictions for now

Despite a statement from Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley that the Government will consider lifting even more of the country’s COVID-19 restrictions, two health experts believe the Government should maintain some degree of protection at the borders of entry.

Some countries, such as the United Kingdom, have already removed their COVID-19 entry protocols for travellers. Grenada is the latest country in the Caribbean to announce that it no longer requires visitors to do a COVID test or fill out a health declaration form.

Occupational and Environmental Health Specialist, Dr Sanjiv Parasram, believes some protocols are required in the event a new COVID-19 variant emerges. This, he told Guardian Media, will prevent the new strain from entering the country.

“There should be some sort of screening because you don’t want to throw the baby out of the bathwater. I would love for people to still get a test, if people could do a rapid test, because you don’t want a positive person on a plane or coming through airports because that provides a hub of infection,” Parasram noted.

In Trinidad and Tobago, all travellers must submit a negative PCR test result, taken 72 hours prior to arrival in the country, via the TTravel Pass.

Unvaccinated or partially vaccinated persons are required to quarantine for 14 days at an approved state-supervised hotel, at their expense. If there is no approved, state-supervised accommodation available, the passenger will not be approved for entry.

According to Health Economic Specialist, Professor Hariharan Seetharaman, testing is important and should remain a requirement even if it’s a rapid antigen test.

“We need to be cautious about letting everybody into the country because there is evidence in island countries where the migrant population bring in a small spike with new variants, so we should have some sort of restricted entry like what we have now with the travel pass,” Seetharaman said.

“I would not support any draconian measures at this point in time. We need to relax and open up the economy. Tobago is tourism so we shouldn’t be turning away people but we must also have personal responsibility by maintaining some measures until we are in a much more comfortable place in the pandemic.”

Dr Parasram warned that while “we are in a far better position than we were a couple months ago,” the country still needed to be wary of the Omicron variant.

“We still have to be careful of Omicron, which is causing a very deadly wave in Hong Kong right now, so you have to look at everything holistically,” he said.

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