Just a few hours after PM Dr Keith Rowley announced the surprise shutdown of non-essential businesses and for everyone to stay at home and National Security Minister Stuart Young warned that those caught outside could face a fine of $50,000 or six months in prison, all hell broke loose as people started to panic and rush to overcrowded supermarkets, there were long lines outside the banks, drivers queued up at service stations as the Government moved to contain the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
Dr Rowley made the announcement at a press conference at the Diplomatic Centre, Port of Spain last Thursday (March 26). But many did not fully understand the STAY HOME advice and were running scared since they were also hearing about jail.
It was more confusion the following day Friday (March 27) as the long lines at the supermarkets continued with people, not practising social distancing. It was also month-end when most people make their groceries as well as go to the banks. Many did not understand what social distancing meant.
A number of gas stations had run out of gasoline and there was a shortage of cooking gas across the country from panic buying.
Many in the health sector are saying that now there can be the “local spread” from people who could have picked up the virus from simply going to the supermarket and being in contact with a stranger who is a carrier. Based on this possibility, there could be an upsurge in the local spread in the coming weeks.
There were large crowds to get into the supermarkets as people rushed to stock up on food. Consequently, there is now the possibility in the coming weeks of more “local spread” of the deadly virus.
To date there are six deaths so far from the disease and 96 persons have been tested positive with the virus.
Some people are accusing Health Minister Health Terrence Deyalsingh of not being truthful with information about the spread of the virus, and the areas where the victims come from, hiding behind what he claimed to be patient confidentiality.
But the Ministry of Health’s policy on disclosing information about patients with the virus seems at variance with other policies across the globe.
There are several guidelines in countries abroad like the UK which speak to the disclosure of patient information to protect others from being contaminated. This is under the legislation for the Disclosures for the Protection of Patients and Others.
Some are saying that Chief Medical Officer Dr Roshan Parasram should let Denialsingh know that doctors owe a duty of confidentiality to their patients, but they also have a wider duty to protect and promote the health of patients and the public.
Since all rum shops have been closed for the past two weeks, the rum posse of Balkie, Barman, Rasta and Dougla had made Ramsingh’s home the liming spot on weekends to drink some grog and make a cook.
Ramsingh: “Boys how allyuh making out with dis Rowley law to stay home and only come out if necessary. For meh it is dam boring. It eh have nothing else to do but to watch TV and the damn tv stations will not even beef up their programmes so as to make it easier for people confined to their homes. It go have ah lot ah people go get depressed staying home whole day with nothing to do. I eh even have a place to make ah garden and keep mehself occupied.”
Rasta: “Well, ah have time to see bout meh marijuana plants which growing nice. In d next few weeks ah go cut some ah dem trees and put dem to dry. Ah plant six trees because ah know no police eh coming by meh house to check if it is only four trees which d law say yuh could plant.”
Barman: “Yuh know ah tired hear Deyalsingh and Young bumping dey gum bout dis coronavirus telling d people to stay indoors and come out only if dey have to go to d bank and supermarket an dem essential business places. Yuh know it have hardhead Trinis who doh like to hear no advice dey getting to stay home to stop d spread ah d virus to save dey lives. But who doh hear go have to feel. No, dey go dead. As President Trump say more people go dead than ever dead before”
Dougla: “Ah listening to Young all d time bout how he warning people bout dis deadly virus. Ah feel if it start to have more cases or death, Rowley go call ah state ah emergency or ah total lockdown. He done say dis stay home is not ah lock down or state ah emergency.”
Ramsingh: “Rowley eh locking down no place, nah. He protecting dem big business who does pump money in d PNM election. Is dem big business who go suffer if dey have to close up shop for ah week or two. He might say ah curfew go be better and people go only be allowed outside for ah few hours in d day. It go have more panic buying. Yuh know dem supermarkets make real money when d rush started after Rowley say stay indoors for two weeks.”
Balkie: “Young trying old police trick, and scaring people by saying if dey eh stay home dey go make ah jail or pay ah $50,000 fine. But d police commissioner say d police cyar lock up people, just so if dey outside dey homes. He even say dey can exercise in twos where people does accustom exercising on evenings after work but not in groups. Gary, right, he say d police operating under d law because he remember when Kamla ordered a state ah emergency when she was in power, dem people who get lock up end up suing d State and get plenty money. But Young showing he is d boss and say doh come out to exercise.”
Barman: “Ah feel dis government eh have ah clue how to handle dis virus which crippling d world. All Deyalsingh is doing is what all ah dem countries which have d disease is doing. He just following d policy and guidelines set out by d World Health Organization. Ah feel he hiding ah lot ah things bout dis virus but when d mark buss he go have to resign he job. He just like playing heself in front d tv every day.”
Until next week and be safe guys!