Bear with us for a few more days.
This was the message to 293 nationals quarantined on board Royal Caribbean’s Enchantment of the Seas from National Security Minister Stuart Young.
The nationals have spent 16 days officially quarantined in Trinidad waters, after being out at sea for months.
During yesterday’s virtual news conference, Young said, “They are going to be coming off the ship tomorrow (Tuesday). We will take them into facilities that we’re currently preparing and we will do a testing that will be under the Ministry of Health and the Chief Medical Officer hopefully by Thursday of this week and once everything goes well and everyone is negative, or those who are negative, the CMO will then take a professional decision. Bear with us for these few more days.”
Chief Medical Officer Dr Roshan Parasram said, “We can’t send 300 individuals to 300 households around the country, different places and hope that none of them become positive. We have to have them in places that are within our control. If any of them become positive, of course then there won’t be a risk to the community and Trinidad and Tobago in general so we’re just asking them to bear with us for a few more days. We will bring you on land and test you a couple days later on in the week. As soon as we get the results and they’re all negative again they will be able to return to their families safely.”
Nationals however told the Express they are beyond frustrated, fed up of waiting and claimed unfair treatment by the Government.
Speaking with the Express yesterday, one cruise ship worker said, “I am speaking on behalf of my crew and fellow Trinidadians, we are frustrated in this system that the Government is using and we are being totally punished and treated like animals and criminals for no reason. This is very unfair to us. I want to know if we making coronavirus in isolation in our cabin. All those who tested positive and were sent to Caura, got tested again and were negative, so how accurate are these tests?”
The nationals said they already received two negative test results and as such believe they should be allowed to self-quarantine at home.
The nationals also told the Express that their fellow crew members from neighbouring islands were allowed to self-quarantine when they came off the same ship.
One national added, “St Vincent, Jamaica, Dominica, Grenada, when crew members did the second test and tested negative, went home and self-quarantined and the medical officials checked on them. I don’t understand why they can’t do that for us.”
However, Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh rejected that option.
He said, “We ascribe and have been ascribing since day one that all quarantine be under State quarantine in State-run facilities or in facilities where it is under the direction of the public health system. It is because of that we have not had community spread. It is because of that people are safe. It is because of that our death toll is only eight. It is not the intention of the Government at this point in time to go in contravention to the policies that have worked.”
He said the Government has a wider responsibility to the nation to protect not only the cruise ship workers but 1.4 million people.
Young also said, “Could you all imagine the disaster that it would have been if persons came off, went into the community and then presented positive. We cannot pull it back once there’s community spread and we would be in difficult positions like we’re seeing in some of the most sophisticated countries in the world. The Government has been and will continue to take the necessary scientific and medical public health advice from our experts that will guide us.”
Deyalsingh said that the Couva hospital, the Balandra facility and the Sangre Grande facility will be used to house the cruise ship workers.
Four of the nationals who tested positive were scheduled to be discharged from Caura Hospital yesterday and reunited with their families.
However, the remaining nationals are at the port anxiously awaiting to disembark the Enchantment of the Seas Royal Caribbean ship which leaves Trinidad today.