Community activist Victor Roberts wheels a black coffin through the SS Erin Road to protest rising COVID-19 deaths. (Image: RISHI RAGOONATH)
[email protected]

In a historic march to highlight rising COVID-19 deaths, community activist Victor Roberts is now wheeling a black coffin through the streets of Trinidad, calling on the government to improve the health sector.

Roberts, of La Brea, started his march at Erin shortly before 7 am today, and is expected to walk along the SS Erin Road, through Palo Seco, Santa Flora, Siparia, Penal, Debe and Southern Main Road, all the way to Port of Spain.

Roberts said the rising COVID-19 deaths was indicative of the problems being faced in the nation’s hospitals. The activist who had contested the La Brea seat on a UNC ticket and lost during the last election said people were dying because of mismanagement at the nation’s hospitals.

“Our health sector is in shambles. We continue to lose our loved ones on a daily basis,” Roberts said.

He added: “This coffin symbolizes the deaths of our loved ones. Feel free to place a flower or a wreath or something black on this coffin. We will be coming to your community passing on the old road. Stand in protest about what is happening in this country.”

COVID deaths have been on the rise with a rolling average of over 500. On Thursday, T&T recorded the highest number of deaths since the start of the pandemic.

Three days ago, Ricardo Goolcharan, an Industrial Relations Officer at the Public Service Association (PSA), chained himself at the San Fernando General Hospital to protest a shortage of resources at the nation’s hospitals.

Goolcharan told Guardian Media that the current ratio at hospitals was one nurse to 30 patients, noting that international standards recommended one nurse to four patients.

President of the National Nursing Association, Idi Stuart, has complained that nurses were in short supply, noting that nurses stationed at the parallel health care institutions were inexperienced and unable to give quality patient care.

Skilled nurses, he said, were leaving in droves because of deplorable working conditions at the hospitals.

Guardian Media will update this story as more information comes to hand.