Chief Medical Officer Dr Roshan Parasram said there still remained a possibility that the new COVID Variant Under Investigation in December 2020 (VUI – 202012/01) which emerged in the United Kingdom could be in Trinidad and Tobago already.
“Because our border always remain closed, because we have managed the repatriation through testing and quarantine it is hopefully less likely than other countries, who have remained with an open border,” said Dr Parasram.
Speaking during a news conference at the Diplomatic Centre yesterday, Dr Parasram added, “We have managed the inflow of people coming from the UK in particular. They would have had to go through possibly Barbados or the United States of America before coming into Trinidad. So they would have come in, in that route or they would have had a PCR on the outset at least seven days of quarantine with a day six test again followed by seven days home. So we would have picked up any cases coming from the UK has positive in the cohort and of course, isolated them to prevent any spread further.”
The CMO was hopeful that these measures had been successful in keeping the variant out but said the University of the West Indies had begun genomic testing with samples in the second phase of this disease. These tests he explained, “would test newer samples as well and we’ll continue to look and see if we have the variant in our country. “
There have been reports of the variant in Australia, Denmark, Italy, Iceland, Netherlands and South Africa.
However, the CMO noted it was still too early to say if the vaccine’s efficacy on the strain would be affected as research is still ongoing.
Meanwhile, Trinidad and Tobago will not be allowing any flights from Barbados until January 6, as part of a precautionary measure to curb the new COVID Variant.
Minister of National Security Stuart Young spoke of the measure yesterday news conference.
“The flights would be, the person’s coming from the UK I’m certain in 95 per cent of them would come via Barbados. The next flight we are putting on from Barbados, you would have seen some other countries stop travel from the UK or slow it down until the 4th of January. The next flight we are going to have from Barbados is the 6th of January taking us out of that period as well,” said Young, who also noted that the United States had also restricted travel from the United Kingdom to their nationals only limiting the possibility that travellers from the UK could enter through a repatriation flight from that country.