An unidentified vendor pushes a cart with his vegetables while walking along Chaguanas Main Road yesterday.

With the Easter holidays around the corner, citizens continue to be caught across the country flouting the COVID-19 protocols despite rising cases. For people in the shopping centre of Chaguanas, compliance seems to not be the norm.

After weeks of declining coronavirus numbers, Ministry of Health officials say a recent uptick in cases in the Caroni county is threatening to fuel a potential third wave of infections.

Medical officials said earlier this week that some of the recent cases of COVID from the region revealed that one patient who eventually tested positive had engaged in bar-hopping while another had attended a church event although they were feeling unwell.

In the Chaguanas borough, one of the county’s most populated areas, there are now serious concerns that the upcoming Easter period could deal a deadly blow.

When a team from Guardian Media visited the area yesterday, members of the public expressed their apprehension ahead of the holidays.

According to Roopchand Bridglal, the increased notable flouting of the health regulations could spell bad news.

“I am definitely sure we would have an increase in COVID after the Easter holiday because people not wearing their masks and in crowds definitely not wearing masks.”

Business owner Anarood Sewdass said social distancing appears to have gone out the window.

“I’ve been seeing a lot of people wearing their masks, which is good but the social distancing is not really to the standard it’s supposed to be.”

Fruit and vegetables vendor Marcia Taylor expressed fear that an increase in infections could rob her of her livelihood.

“I really think this virus could spread, the way I see things going, so yes I think so, if we go out and mix with people and so on I think so. If I scared again, I am scared but this is what I do for a living. I have to put my trust in Jesus and come out for my daily bread,” Taylor said.

A snapshot of the area just after midday revealed the blatant disregard for the COVID-19 health protocols which not only places the county’s over 240,000 population at risk, but also the wider country.

Experts warn that the lax attitude towards the pandemic could come at a cost, especially if citizens use the upcoming Easter period to partake in activities in contravention of the stipulated health guidelines.

In the Caroni county, positive cases were recorded at bars, places of worship and even police stations.

Chief Medical Officer Dr Roshan Parasram described the recent spike as a cause for concern.

This sentiment is shared by consultant physician Dr Joel Teelucksingh, who warned against the dangers of flouting the regulations.

“There has never been a super spreader event in the great outdoors so the risk for transmission will be lower, persons are tired of mitigation strategies legislated in March of 2020 and avoidance of high-risk setting should be the focus,” Teelucksingh said.

Teelucksingh cautioned too that rapid transmission can be caused by asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic individuals.