COVID-19 forces T&T to ban foreigners’ entry

From midnight tonight, non-nationals won’t be allowed entry into Trinidad and Tobago for two weeks, schools will remain closed until April 20 and bars are being asked to close for two weeks to prevent novel coronavirus (COVID-19) spread.

“We’re basically disconnecting ourselves from the international community for the next 14 days,” Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley said during a press conference at the Diplomatic Centre, St Ann’s, on Monday, after a special Cabinet meeting concerning more plans to deal with the virus.

He said experts have told Government the COVID-19 situation could last until June, with immediate effects up to October.

T&T currently has five cases: two announced last week, two more on Sunday and one yesterday. All five were imported cases. Yesterday, Ministry of Health officials at the briefing, said there are also many people in self-isolation now.

Finance Minister Colm Imbert, among ministers who spoke yesterday, also estimated that T&T could lose $5 billion from the twin “hit” of the recent oil price crash and the virus. (See page 6)“We’re in a crisis, we’re in an emergency – there’s no gainsaying that,” Rowley said.

The Prime Minister noted that there are 75 elderly nationals up the Caribbean on a cruise ship —which had some COVID cases—and they’re trying to return. He said they couldn’t be denied entry as they’re citizens.

“They’re coming home and when they do, they form part of our responsibility,” Rowley said.

He said Government is seeking to shut out the virus from T&T and contain the situation to prevent transmission.

“To do this we have to isolate ourselves from the outside source of the virus,” he said.

He added there could be no solution without some inconvenience and pain, or T&T would end up in a worst case scenario. Decisions being taken were based on policy, he said.

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