Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley MP, as he spoke with Tobago PNM supporters in Mt Pleasant, on Thursday 21 January 2021. (Image courtesy PNM Tobago)

Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley says he is “worried” that the first case of the more contagious UK COVID-19 variant is in Trinidad and Tobago.

Speaking to reporters on the new disease strain, after the new interisland fast ferry A.P.T. JAMES docked in Tobago on January 21, he said he was always concerned it might arrive here.

“I have been worried from day one, and I continue to be worried, because you would have seen on international news how easy it is to go from a comfort zone to calamity,” the PM said.

Speaking to supporters on the campaign trail, later that day, Dr. Rowley, the National Council leader of the People’s National Movement (PMM), told Tobagonians he was prepared to close the interisland border between Trinidad and Tobago when he first heard of the virus last year.

“We took the decision that because Tobago… is an island with a small population.  We would move heaven and Earth to try and preserve the health of the people of Tobago,” he told party supporters at Mt. Pleasant.

He added: “When we did not know enough about this virus… all we had to go on was what we were seeing in Bergamo in Italy… and while I called the nation to a Day of Prayer… I had to decide that if we are facing what the Italians are facing, and the only defence we had in Tobago is to tell Tobagonians we were close the border between Trinidad and Tobago, I will do that.”

Instead, it became necessary to close the international borders and manage nationals returning home, the PM said.

He said it was a “good decision”.

He said cries to reopen the borders would result in critics saying “the government failed to manage”.

He said the government’s management of COVID-19 showed it is the best party to control Tobago during the pandemic.

He urged eligible voters to do their civic duty and vote in the elections on Monday “for the strongest team with the best program”.