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Minister of Planning Camille Robinson-Regis making a point during her contribution in Parliament

A second member of the Dr Keith Rowley People’s National Movement (PNM) administration is having health issues. Planning and Development Minister Camille Robinson-Regis had surgery yesterday and will be on extended sick leave for several weeks.

The Office of the Prime Minister issued a statement at 6.25 pm yesterday, indicating that Robinson-Regis “has had surgery and is now on extended sick leave while she recuperates.”

The statement didn’t say what the surgery was for, how long Robinson-Regis had needed it and what health issues she has. Nor did it say what had occurred in her situation prior to the surgery.

Senator Allyson West started acting as Minister of Planning and Development from yesterday until Robinson-Regis’ return to work. West will act in this capacity in addition to her normal duties.

Communication Minister (OPM) Symon de Nobriga didn’t answer calls last night. He was at the launch of the PNM’s by-election campaign for the Morne Coco/Alyce Glen corporation seat. De Nobriga is the former councillor for that area.

But Government officials said Robinson-Regis had been alert and messaging on her phone after the surgery. They assured she “would be fine.” They added that she will be out of office for six weeks.

Other sources said Robinson-Regis, 62, was reported to have had a health issue several years ago when she was in Canada, but it was dealt with and didn’t recur.

Robinson-Regis is the second Cabinet member to have medical attention in as many weeks.

A week ago today, Prime Minister Rowley was taken to the West Shore Medical Private Hospital suffering from what was described as “discomfort” that was later found to be a cardiac problem. After observation and tests, including an angiogram, an angioplasty – a procedure to open narrowed or blocked arteries- was done.

Rowley, 71, who was sent home last Sunday, was at work on Monday hosting a virtual Caricom emergency meeting.

Government officials confirmed that Rowley also chaired yesterday’s weekly Cabinet meeting, which was held virtually. Cabinet meetings have been held via virtual medium for most of the time since the COVID-19 pandemic hit last March.

Officials said Rowley was in “fine form, very sharp and in key with everything and was going at a swift pace.” They said the Cabinet meeting was a marathon one which ended around 4 pm.

The House of Representatives is not meeting today. But the Senate – which met on Tuesday, meets again next Tuesday. Robinson-Regis is the leader of Government business in the House of Representatives.

There was no confirmation that Rowley would speak at tomorrow’s Ministry of Health press conference on the COVID-19 issue. Rowley had been scheduled to address such a press conference last Saturday but that was cancelled after his cardiac issue. The Health Ministry’s communications department stated last night the press conference would take place tomorrow but couldn’t say if Rowley would speak.

PNM PRO Laurel Lezama-Lee Sing meanwhile said she was unaware of Robinson-Regis’ illness. She said she was at the launch of the PNM’s Morne Coco/Alyce Glen by-election campaign also.

On Robinson-Regis’ surgery, UNC MP Roodal Moonilal said, “This seems to be a troubling time for the Government and their members are taking ill with unwelcomed frequency.

“It is a wake-up call to all of us as to the rigours and trials of public life and the fact that stresses of public life can impair our health.

“Mrs Robinson-Regis and I have been working in the same environment for several decades and I hope she has a speedy recovery, she can continue her work as a politician and as a ‘WPC’,” he quipped

Moonilal said he’s doing his own health tests and is embarking on a fitness programme and golfing.

Apart from Rowley and Robinson-Regis, some members of both the PNM Government and Opposition UNC sides – including the Opposition leader – have been managing respective health issues over the years.