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At the start of the shortened work week, people in the Caribbean were greeted with news that the current Chairman of the Caribbean Community and Prime Minister of Trinidad, Keith Rowley, had tested positive for the COVID-19 virus and his diagnosis forced authorities there to set out in search of clues. Test dozens of people he may have had contact with in the past few days.
Rowley’s announcement that he will remain in self-isolation on sister island Tobago, where he vacationed until he recovered, means he is now the third regional head of government after Prime Minister John Brecino of Belize and President Chan Santokhi of Suriname in recent years victim of the pandemic for four months, although all necessary precautions were taken and citizens were constantly encouraged to comply with prevention regulations.
Rowley, 71, said he first showed flu-like symptoms on Monday and quickly decided to have a test. His result came hours after national vaccination efforts across the country began in earnest. The prime minister promised to lead by example and should be among the first to be publicly shot. According to medical regulations, he now has to wait at least six months to be vaccinated.
The problem with Rowley is that his family has also been in Tobago with him for most of the past week and must now be confined to isolation at the official Trinidad residence. At the weekend they returned to the so-called mainland. Tests are also being conducted on bodyguards, housekeeping staff and others who would have interacted with the prime minister.
Since the announcement, he has received a number of messages from supporters and colleagues. Attorney General Faris Al Rawi said, “He is a front line worker and we often take for granted the level of public interaction he is asked to have in the performance of his duties, and which he carries out with liveliness and enthusiasm during these very difficult times. ”
However, Rud Indarsingh, the main antagonist of the United National Congress (UNC) by lawmakers, said Rowley has been irresponsible to comply with COVID protocols.
“His illness has shown that he did not know what the COVID logs should have been and that he exhibited a high level of indiscretion and indiscipline. One would have thought that the government’s plans would have made us, especially him, safer from COVID, but that’s obviously not the case. Even though our borders remain closed, the Prime Minister has signed COVID. This suggests that continued border closure is not a foolproof measure and continues to be economically, socially and politically counterproductive, “Indarsingh told the Guardian.
Since the double island state is dealing with a sick Prime Minister who also treats heart and high blood pressure problems, the situation in neighboring Guyana is also becoming an important problem.
Authorities recorded 17 deaths in the first week of April, and six in one day over the weekend. Dozens of positive cases are announced on the Ministry of Health’s dashboard every day, but no lockdowns or stricter measures have been announced yet. Soldiers and police did their best to enforce curfews at 10:30 p.m. on Easter weekend, breaking up dozen of parties and events with large, sometimes maskless gatherings.
Meanwhile, several block member states have started receiving small shipments of Astra Zeneca vaccines through the Covax rooftop facility managed by the Pan American Health Organization. Jamaica was last the first with nearly 15,000 cans, while Barbados was among the newest. This week cut almost 34,000 on top of the larger shipments it had received in recent weeks.