Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley. Former deputy governor of the Central Bank, Dr Terrance Farrel suggested giving the PM the power to select a Commissioner of Police and other public officers.

Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley is expected to speak on Saturday on when Government’s public sector quasi safe zone plan will actually start.

This was indicated by Government officials yesterday.

In Parliament on Friday, Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh was asked by UNC MP Rishi Seecheran if he could confirm the plan will start on January 17.

The plan involves public sector divisions to be manned only by workers who have proof of vaccination or appropriate exemption.

A December 21, 2021 memo from the Public Administration Ministry to other ministries had given January 17 as the start date and the Public Administration Ministry called for ministries to give figures by January 4 for vaccinated, unvaccinated and staff with exemptions.

On Friday, Deyalsingh replied to Seecheran and said: “As publicly stated, the Prime Minister will address this issue in the shortest possible space of time.”

On Thursday, Public Administration Minister Allyson West had said the issue would be addressed in “the next day or two.”

Also on Friday, other officials indicated Rowley will speak on the matter at today’s health media briefing. Rowley last addressed the briefing on December 18 when he announced the safe zone policy.

Alsoon Friday, UNC’s Rudy Indarsingh asked Deyalsingh if unvaccinated workers would be locked out on Monday. Deyalsingh said the question of locking out workers doesn’t arise at this time.

Indarsingh asked if the Public Administration Ministry’s December 31 memo was revoked. Deyalsingh said the matter will be dealt with by the appropriate minister and people, it wasn’t a Health Ministry matter and all those things would be clarified in the “shortest space of time.”

Minister: Government in negotiation for Paxlovid

On Seecheran’s other queries, Deyalsingh said two lines of enquiry are being pursued into recent reports by youths at a NATUC media briefing about developing serious side effects after taking the Pfizer vaccine.

Deyalsingh said authorities were checking their vaccination databases to see if those people were in fact vaccinated.

He said, “Once that’s determined, information will be sent to the Chief Medical Officer for clinical review. We’re also reviewing the RHA system to see if these persons presented at any of our facilities. If they suffered adverse affects all medical protocols will be followed. We have to find out their vaccination status, and if the effects noted were in fact due to vaccine or any other purpose or reasons, patient-centred or external. Based on that an appropriate treatment plan will be implemented.”

Deyalsingh also said Government is in negotiation for Pfizer’s anti–viral COVID drug Paxlovid. But that is even in short supply in the US where it’s manufactured.

He noted two other drugs approved by WHO– an oral immunosuppressant for severely ill people. Another made by Glaxo Smith Kline is a monoclonal anti-body to be given intravenously for those at high risk for hospitalisation.

Deyalsingh warned these are not garden variety COVID drugs but they carry criteria for use and aren’t substitutes for vaccination.

Government is also in talks with all other manufacturers including Merck for its anti-viral drug.

Deyalsingh added that T&T is number 30 out of 190 countries on the Worldometer global COVID 19 database.

He said other well resourced states are higher than this country.

“At this point in the highest peak of our pandemic, T&T’s case fatality ratio is around three. Global average is between two and three,” he said.