PORT OF SPAIN — Trinidad and Tobago’s Government has signalled its intention to extend a current State of Emergency (SoE) by three months in order to curb the current spread of the COVID-19 virus.
Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi confirmed on Thursday (August 19) that Parliament, which is currently on recess, will be convened in an urgent session on August 25 to approve a motion to extend the SoE moved by Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley.
A release from the Government’s Communications Division on Friday (August 20) advised the public that there will be an urgent Sitting of the House of Representatives next week to continue and conclude debate on the Government’s request to extend the State of Emergency.
It said Minister of Planning and Development and Government’s Leader in the House of Parliament, Camille Robinson-Regis, had requested and received approval for the urgent sitting during the fixed recess period, adding the sitting will convene on at 1.30 pm.
“The purpose of this Sitting is for the consideration of a resolution to extend the state of public emergency pursuant to section 10 of the Constitution of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago.
The debate on the resolution will be taken to conclusion,” the Government Communications Division release stated.
The People’s National Movement Government will not require the Opposition United National Congress’s support for the proposed extension to be passed.
The country entered into a three-month State of Emergency on May 24 as a third wave of the virus was spreading rapidly across communities. That was extended by a further three months on May 24 and was due to expire on August 29. However, the current extension will see provision extended until November.
During the SoE, citizens are not allowed to leave their homes during a curfew period from 9 pm to 5 am unless they have special passes to do so. Only members of the law enforcement agencies, health services, and essential services are allowed to move about during the curfew with special passes assigned by the Commissioner of Police.
General Al-Rawi told the media on Thursday that the extension was critical, as it would allow the Government to carry out certain operations which it could only do under a State of Emergency. He said the current State of Emergency had achieved its objective.
“The State of Emergency has borne a significant amount of fruit, in that it has allowed us, as the numbers dictate, as the numbers demonstrate, a climb down away from a very dangerous position where we had merely days of bed space available into under 35 to 45 percent occupancy,” Al-Rawi said.
“It is obviously of great concern that we still have a need for room and deploying the vaccines and that’s where the State of Emergency is particularly useful.”
The AG noted that an extension of the State of Emergency would, more importantly, now give the Ministry of Health the time it needs to vaccinate more citizens, especially given that the Delta variant of the virus has now been detected in repatriated nationals returning to the country. Thus far, Ministry of Health officials have detected the Delta strain of the virus in three nationals who have returned from abroad to Trinidad and Tobago in recent weeks.
Those persons have been placed in state quarantine. The country has so far recorded 42,582 COVID-19 cases and 1,208 deaths since the virus was first detected in the country in March last year.
So far, some 467,029 people have also received one shot of a COVID-19 vaccination while 346,441 have been fully vaccinated. However, with a population of 1.4 million people, the Ministry of Health is targeting between 840,000 to 980,000 members of the population to achieve herd immunity.
Trinidad and Tobago was scheduled to receive a batch of 108,000 doses of the Johnson and Johnson (J&J) single jab doses from the African Medical Supplies Platform on Friday night (August 20). Once the J&J doses are put into use, citizens will have a choice of four vaccines, since the AstraZeneca, Pfizer, and Sinopharm jabs are already in use.