There are two important dates in Trinidad and Tobago’s history ahead.

One of them is May 23, when Ministry of Health experts are expected to return to citizens to indicate whether the recent round of public health restrictions would have made any dent in reducing the growing COVID-19 cases witnessed daily in this latest deadly wave.

In that regard, the startling announcement of nine deaths in a 24-hour period, the highest daily fatality toll since COVID hit our shores last year should have again jolted the society. More troubling is the fact that the average daily rolling death rate so far this month is five – 55 people dead in 11 days up to yesterday and 4,087 active cases to be exact.

It goes without saying that if the current trend holds, T&T could see itself in the same situation India is now currently experiencing and, more importantly, may not be able to mobilise the resources—economically, infrastructurally and human resource-wise—to deal with the ramifications either.

The other critical date is as yet unannounced but is even more important than the first. This will be when citizens can expect the second round of COVID-19 vaccinations for those who missed the first round.

As of yesterday, the ministry announced that 60,487 people had received a first jab of the AstraZeneca vaccine while only 1,179 had been fully inoculated. This was mere hours after the second batch of 33,600 AstraZeneca vaccines via the COVAX facility arrived in the country. The expected arrival of 100,000 Sinopharm vaccines donated by the Chinese government and the T&T Government also working on a private purchase of further supplies was a good sign the Government was finally actioning the acquisition of vaccines outside the COVAX facility. This means that health officials may be able to plot the inoculation of the rest of the populace a lot better than during the first phase, in order to achieve the herd immunity needed to give citizens another level of protection against its spread.

However, we already know that vaccines are not a cure for the disease and based on example we have seen worldwide, herd immunity is not be the panacea for preventing COVID’s spread either.

The answer to that will remain obeying the public health protocols of wearing masks, washing hands, sanitising, social distancing and staying home when feeling ill—still the best tools in our war against COVID-19.

In that regard, it is our hope that certain activities ahead be properly monitored to ensure we do not lose any ground we may make before May 23.

The Government has announced a $30 million relief package for individuals who have lost jobs over the past month. The authorities charged with administering these grants, as well as the NGOs and religious bodies who the Venezuelan migrant population may seek relief from, must now ensure there are no instances where they are overwhelmed during these processes and create super-spreader events.

Vigilance and discipline in obeying the health protocols must remain our key watchwords going forward.