3101803
UNC Senator Wade Mark shows a letter from the Parliament during a press conference at the Office of the Leader of the Opposition, Charles Street, Port-of- Spain, yesterday.

No vaccines from the Covax facility were stolen from the storage at the Couva Health Facility.

Minister of Health Terrence Deyalsingh yesterday refuted claims by Opposition Senator Wade Mark. Mark and the United National Congress (UNC) stayed away from Parliament again yesterday and once again called a media conference to insist that the parliamentary chamber be sanitised and that those sitting near and in the company of the Prime Minister be tested for COVID-19.

Mark, at the media conference at the Office of the Opposition Leader in Port-of-Spain, said that some of the 33,600 vaccines bought from the Covax facility were stolen from storage at the Couva Health Facility.

Mark had no evidence of the claim but said that it was information passed on to him. He urged reporters to investigate.

“We learned today, from a source at the Couva Medical Centre that vaccines stored at the Couva Hospital, refrigerated, vaccines were stolen,” he said.

But Deyalsingh said that that was not true. He quoted the Chief Executive Officer of the South West Regional Health Authority, Dr Brian Armour as saying that “there is absolutely no truth to the claim of missing COVID-19 vaccines”.

“The allegation was brought to my attention yesterday (Monday) by the staff of the facility, Subsequent investigations were conducted and proved that was false,” Armour said in the media release.

The vaccines arrived in the country on March 30.

Mark, in explaining the decision of Opposition Senators to stay away yesterday, said that everyone who was in close contact with the Prime Minister must take the test and is calling for the space to be sanitised.

Mark said that if the Opposition did not boycott Parliament last Friday, the country would not have known that contact tracing only needed to be done for the two days prior to the onset of symptoms.

At a media conference on Saturday, epidemiologist Dr Avery Hinds said that according to the World Health Organisation latest update, only that two-day window needed to be retraced to determine points of contact.

“We would never have known,” Mark said.

“All long we were told that once you test positive for COVID-19, contact tracing must go up to 14 days, all of the people you have been in contact with the last 14 days must go into quarantine and isolated. This is what the population was told,” he said.

“All of a sudden the Prime Minister contracts COVID-19 and the goal post shifts,” he said.

He likened Rowley to a deposed African self-crowned emperor, Jean Bedél Bokassa.

“One law for himself and his ministers and then another law for us, his subjects,” he said.

Mark said that he wanted Rowley to get well quickly because he had “real battles” to face with the UNC.

Mark said that the UNC was supposed to be at the Senate, but because of the “disrespect, contempt and contumely” shown to the official UNC, they had to call a media conference instead of attending.

Mark said that since last Wednesday the UNC wrote to House Speaker Brigid Annisette-George to ensure that all necessary steps were taken to safeguard the welfare and safety of the people who worked at parliament and the MP’s.

“Today (Tuesday), almost six days later, not a response, not a courtesy even of an acknowledgement,” Mark said.

He said it was evidence of the “PNM-style dictatorship”.

“But we will have none of it, we will not allow the PNM to disrespect the UNC,” he said.

He cited a newspaper editorial that supported the UNC’s parliamentary boycott and said he sent that to Leader of Government Business and Energy Minister Franklin Khan and asked him to take the necessary steps to have the Parliament sanitised.

“Because we don’t know. This thing is evolving,” Mark said.

“He responded by a phone call saying there was no need for that, no need for sanitisation,” he said.

Mark said that Khan attended an energy event with Rowley and could also be infected.