Kamla: Covid19 rollback a distraction

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar. –

OPPOSITION Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar claimed the Prime Minister’s announcement that some covid19 restrictions are being relaxed was a distraction from the February 25 deaths of four divers doing maintenance work on an underwater pipeline on Paria Fuel’s compound at Pointe-a-Pierre.

In a statement, Persad-Bissessar called Dr Rowley’s announcement a “totally self-serving and obscene act” to deflect attention from the incident.

She said, “The Prime Minister is yet to speak publicly on this matter.”

In a statement on February 28, Rowley expressed his condolences to the families of the four divers who died and said, “Nothing will stand in the way of determining how this tragedy occurred.”

He also said, “All that has to be done by Paria and its associates in this matter will be professionally executed starting with the already announced independent investigation involving the best professional and technical expertise available to the country.”

Persad-Bissessar accused Rowley of disregarding recommendations made recently by a committee formed to examine the management of covid19.

They included more being done to help prevent and manage non-communicable diseases (identified as the main contributors to severe illness and death in covid19 patients) and national policy on ICU (intensive care unit) admissions and care of the elderly.

At a virtual covid19 news conference on February 23, Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh said he took the committee’s recommendations very seriously.

“Some of the recommendations have to do with operational issues at the RHAs. The CEOs have the report. I met with them yesterday (February 22).”

Issues such as staff accommodation, burnout and meals for staff were discussed in that meeting, Deyalsingh said.

“Those are very important recommendations which we can look at almost immediately.”

He added the deficiencies highlighted in the report “really showed up at the height of the pandemic, when systems were most strained.”

Persad-Bissessar also wondered if Rowley would also disregard the findings of the five-member panel being formed to investigate the Paria incident.

Energy Minister Stuart Young announced the establishment of this panel and details of its assignment at the post-Cabinet news conference on Thursday.