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Trinidad and Tobago yesterday got the disturbing news that no wants want to hear—our head of state, Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley ­— had tested positive for COVID-19.

Information from the Office of the Prime Minister revealed that Dr Rowley began exhibiting flu-like symptoms on Monday and was tested, with the results coming back positive. The Prime Minister has been under medical care since then in Tobago, where he had gone for the four-day long Easter weekend like the over 10,000-plus citizens from Trinidad who chose this short vacation option.

Given his medical history, however, Dr Rowley falls into the category of hundreds of citizens at greater risk for heightened complications as a result of contracting the disease. In this regard, this media house joins the nation in wishing the Prime Minister speedy recovery, knowing full well that the medical practitioners who have taken care of citizens during this trying period of the pandemic will continue to do their best.

It is unfortunate Dr Rowley would have contracted the disease mere hours before he was scheduled to take his first shot of the AstraZeneca vaccine that only recently arrived for the inoculation drive that started yesterday. Rowley, Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh and President Paula-Mae Weekes were scheduled for inoculation, they being in the 60-plus age bracket targeted in the first phase of vaccination.

Minister Deyalsingh and President Weekes got their jabs as scheduled and this media house hopes that they, along with PM Rowley, who will now have first-hand experience of the disease’s effects, will use this situation to become the country’s main advocates for COVID inoculation education.

It goes without saying that as Prime Minister, Dr Rowley has a busy schedule which brings him into contact with scores of people and therein lies part of the problem with managing this deadly disease. It is impossible for anyone to determine who is potentially carrying COVID-19, particularly if they are exhibiting no symptoms. This is why citizens have to be their own best first line of defence by wearing masks, sanitising, physical distancing and most importantly, staying at home when feeling ill.

The undisciplined behaviour of some citizens over the past couple weeks, which led to another spike in cases, has now cost those students due to sit the Secondary Entrance Assessment examination on June 10 the opportunity to return to school on April 12 as originally hoped by Education Minister Dr Nyan Gadsby-Dolly. Hopefully, these citizens will take note of what has now befallen the Prime Minister, who has led the Government’s call for citizens to be vigilant against the disease since it hit T&T’s shores last year, and change their behaviour.

However, the current situation also re-emphasises the importance of the Government ensuring it acquires more vaccines to achieve the herd immunity status the country needs to reach in quick time. On that note, therefore, we hope Minister Deyalsingh ensures those eligible for inoculation in this first phase are fully apprised of the process for doing so and that the rest of the population is educated on the significance of taking the vaccines going forward.