Ward attendants capture the memories of San Fernando Mayor and other officials saluting the essential workers yesterday outside of the San Fernando General Hospital.


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Superman actor Christopher Reeve once said that “a hero is someone who, despite weakness, doubt or not always knowing the answers, goes ahead and overcomes anyway.”

Realising this is the life our healthcare workers face daily, hundreds of citizens answered the call to salute their efforts in yesterday’s National Day of Applause.

As the bells at Mount St Benedict echoed from the hills and the siren sounded at the Coast Guard base in Chaguaramas at 10 am, the diminished daily activities caused by COVID-19 came to a halt. Servicemen and women stopped to applaud the efforts of those fighting the invisible threat. Those deemed essential in keeping the country operational showed gratitude from their workplaces. Those seeking refuge at home were in their driveways and yards, hoping their love would inspire the frontline workers, who are the infantry in this war. Videos of children holding their creative signs warmed the hearts of many.

Guardian Media’s live broadcast of the event tugged on the heartstrings of ANSA McAL Group executive chairman A Norman Sabga, who applauded along with his family. Sabga was not only proud and honoured that the Group led the initiative, but that the country united for the cause.

“I was with extreme pride to see how the country came together to honour, recognise and appreciate frontline workers in the fight against COVID-19. Sometimes it takes a crisis to bring out the best in us. I am positive we will, together, overcome this.

“We intend to roll this out regionally to demonstrate our appreciation of all Caribbean frontline workers in all categories of work. They are also our heroes as we battle the scrooge of the coronavirus. May God bless our nation,” Sabga said.

ANSA McAL collaborated with RETHINK and I Support Our Service for the event. US Ambassador Joseph Mondello applauded both T&T and US for showing grace and courage in a stressful and scary time.

Mondello said one of the reasons he and his staff love serving in T&T was because of the citizens’ creativity.

“These are times of uncertainty but we can minimise the risk to ourselves, our families and our communities by doing the right thing. If we do all that our governments are advising; social distancing and proper hygiene, we can stay healthy. Ladies and gentlemen, we are all in this together so let us support each other and stay strong, safe and healthy,” Mondello said.

With social distancing and self-isolation measures critical in battling COVID-19, police officers are essential to ensuring citizens adhere to the rules. According to Nicole Dyer-Griffith, O2N Foundation CEO and wife of Commissioner of Police Gary Griffith, it is challenging. Dyer-Griffith said she receives daily messages from the spouses of police officers who are fearful about their loved ones’ interaction with the public. She said officers are often wary of taking the virus home to their families and have to take additional precautions. She said initiatives like the National Day of Applause are one of the measures to encourage law enforcement officers in this difficult time.

While congratulating the organisers, Tabaquite MP Dr Surujrattan Rambachan urged citizens to remember that those on the frontline are putting their lives at risk to save lives.

“This is reality. Unfortunately, a lot of persons in our country still do not appreciate this. A lot of us are unwilling to sacrifice. I hope that this event has lifted the consciousness of every citizen so that we all recognise that people in the front line are at risk of losing their lives to save our lives. This is work as worship.” Rambachan said.

Social media was abuzz with videos and photos from supermarkets, health facilities, pharmacies and communities. Those videos can be found on CNC3 News’ Facebook page. This kind of support for frontline workers is being done in other countries as well.

At 8 pm last night, England held its third national “Clap For Our Carers” in support of key workers, including National Health Service staff, supermarket workers and teachers. The first was on March 26.

Last month, firefighters and police officers put on the sirens and emergency lights on their vehicles as they stood and applauded the healthcare professionals at the Suroit Regional Hospital in Quebec, Canada. Global reports show that as the research on the virus continues and protective gear become scares, hundred of healthcare workers died while thousands are infected with the virus.