Members of the T&T Defence Force stand guard outside the University of the West Indies’s Debe Campus yesterday, after a group of T&T nationals who returned from Suriname were quarantined there.

A T&T national who spent several months waiting to re-enter the country as borders remained closed in the past several months is pleading with health authorities to do better regarding the services and amenities at state quarantine facilities.

Ryan Lalchan, 47, of Marabella, had just assumed duty aboard a cruise ship in March when he arrived in Grenada and everywhere was locked down as the virus began spreading across the Caribbean region. T&T’s borders were closed around the same time, making it virtually impossible for Lalchan to return home.

Applying for an exemption to re-enter T&T in August, he went to Barbados hoping to secure a flight home but was unsuccessful.

Forming friendships with others like himself, Lalchan said they endured “a different kind of hell” as they fought to survive.

Arriving in T&T on December 18, he said there were no social distancing protocols during luggage collection and even while being transported to the UWI Debe Campus where they were assigned to separate rooms.

Indicating they were lucky to have been placed in a facility where the rooms were self-contained, Lalchan said, “This group I was in all bonded and we were helping each other. The guys were helping the girls up the steps with their luggage and one girl actually fell down…not one member of the medical team asked her during her stay if she was okay.”

He said some of the rooms had not been cleaned from previous use as the toilets and shower stalls were dirty and there was hair on the floor and beds. “I have metal in my leg and they made me walk up three flights of stairs. The elevators were not working and then we had to come back down for meals.

“The rooms did not have locks on the doors and many of us had valuables, electronics, and money in our possession which we could not even secure when we had to go down for meals.”

Lalchan said the group’s meals improved only after complaining.

Lalchan urged the authorities to adopt a more humane approach when dealing with repatriated citizens. He said a little understanding would go a long way in easing the mental stress they endure before reuniting with their loved ones.

The group was sent home hours before Christmas Day and will remain in home isolation for seven days.

7 new COVID cases between December 23-25

The Ministry of Health announced that between December 23 to 25, seven new cases were recorded. Of this number, one is a repatriated citizen. There were no additional deaths, so the figure remained at 125. A total of 25 patients remain hospitalised, while 41 are in step-down facilities, with 174 at state quarantine sites, and 361 people in home isolation. Total active positive cases were said to be 434 on Saturday.