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Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley address members of the media during the COVID-19 update at the Diplomatic Centre in St Ann’s, yesterday.

Raphael John-Lall

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The first tranche of the AstraZeneca vaccines allocated to T&T under the COVAX system is en route from South Korea and will arrive Tuesday according to Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh.

‘The vaccines are currently en route to Trinidad and Tobago. The vaccines are coming from South Korean Bio and it is a World Health Organization (WHO) AstraZeneca approved vaccine. They will be transported to Brussels then to Amsterdam then to Miami and then to Trinidad and Tobago,” he announced during a press conference hosted by Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley at the Diplomatic Centre, St Ann’s yesterday.

“The current date of arrival is March 30, if everything goes according to plan. If all flights are on time and there are no weather delays.”

Deyalsingh said half of the vaccines will be stored at C-40 in Chaguaramas and the rest at the Couva Chiller ahead of administration at 21 sites across T&T.

He said 3,000 of the doses will be sent to Tobago on Thursday and the rest will be distributed throughout Trinidad on Easter weekend. The national rollout will start on the Tuesday after Easter.

“We will continue with frontline healthcare workers. Simultaneously, we will vaccinate those over 60 in non-communicable diseases clinics—those persons are already known to us. They will be vaccinated on their clinic days. We also plan on the non-clinic days to open it up to members of the general public over 60 with NCD’s but by appointment only. That will eat up our 33, 600 doses. We will go after 16,000 persons in the first tranche,” the minister said

Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley reminded citizens that T&T is still in the middle of the pandemic and appealed to them not to let their guard down.

“Don’t become COVID weary,” he said, “we are not in a post-pandemic period. Nowhere in the world is in a post-pandemic period.”

Dr Rowley said he knows many people are tired as they have been dealing with pandemic restrictions for a year but warned that if the country returns to a second lockdown the Government will not have the resources that it had during the first.

“There will be no resources for a Government bailout. The tens of thousands of you who received a Government cheque, I am putting you on notice now, if we find ourselves back in that position there are no resources. If you are in the business community and you got a Government cheque as a VAT refund or support for your business, the resources have been used up. Those are the consequences likely to flow if we do not stay the course,” he said.

He said if COVID-19 cases are kept down, after Easter for the first time in a year, senior primary school children will be able to resume in-person classes.

‘This will be a mental and psychological lift for the country that you cannot put a dollar figure on,” Dr Rowley said

The Prime Minister urged the country’s leaders, including the Opposition Leader, to advise their followers to abide by health protocols to keep cases down so that primary school students could return to physical classes. He also called on the police to do their jobs by making sure people wear masks and don’t congregate in large numbers.

He described reports of Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi attending a private event with more than 10 persons as “disappointing.”

In his clinical update, Chief Medical Officer Dr Roshan Parasram said there were 15 new cases of COVID-19 and one additional death.

Epidemiologist Dr Avery Hinds said there has been a slow but steady increase in cases last few weeks, a trend that highlight growing fatigue in following public health protocols.

He said although people are getting tired of wearing masks and following the other protocols unless there was continue adherence there would be serious repercussions.

Medical Director at the Caura Hospital Dr Michelle Trotman advised the population to follow the basic principles of social distancing, sanitizing, and wearing masks.

“As we see those numbers wanting to climb up and are actually climbing up, let us lay the foundation by getting those numbers back down. People hear vaccinations are coming and it’s all over. Well, it continues,” she said.