Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley speaks at a PNM meeting in Chaguanas on Monday night.

Rishard Khan

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The second phase of Trinidad and Tobago’s COVID-19 epidemic began almost two weeks ago with some 19 citizens being infected from a source which, despite recent discoveries, still remains unknown.

Within the past 48 hours, 12 new infections have been detected, showing how rapidly the virus is spreading across the country. Nine of these new cases were in direct contact with infected people and three of them are pending “epidemiological investigation”, according to a release from the Ministry of Health. Yesterday’s figures brought the total number of infected primary contacts up to 27.

The total number of positive cases rose to 194, with 57 of those being detected since July 20. Of these 57, eight are returning nationals and the others are localised cases.

The latest cases came even as a twelfth primary school was forced to shut down for sanitisation and the self-quarantining of staff and standard five students preparing for the August 20 Secondary Entrance Assessment.

National Council of Parent Teachers’ Associations (NPTA) public relations officer Shamilla Raheem told Guardian Media the latest school forced into COVID protocol was the Caparo RC Primary School yesterday.

Reiterating the association’s call for the immediate cessation to these classes, Raheem said, “From the last virtual meeting we had with the Ministry of Education, we asked for the schools to be closed. That was last Monday and it was just two to three schools. Now we have 11-plus climbing. What are they waiting on? What are they really waiting on? For a dead child?”

Both the NPTA and T&T Unified Teachers’ Association have been calling for the SEA classes to be stopped in light of the latest COVID development. However, the National Primary Schools’ Principals’ Association (NAPSA) has instead suggested that the contact hours be reduced for the pupils.