Gopeesingh advises gov’t to lift existing emergency public health declaration

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Gopeesingh advises gov’t to lift existing emergency public health declaration

Former UNC MP, Dr Tim Gopeesingh said the move by the World Health Organization to no longer classify the Coronavirus pandemic as a ‘global public health emergency of international concern’ is of tremendous global, regional and local significance.

In a statement, Gopeesingh said, “It means that, after three years after the Covid-19 virus unleashed an unprecedented medical and economic crisis of global proportions, the world can now look forward to some return to pre-pandemic norms.”

“In the wake of this significant development, I advise the Government and Ministry of Health to immediately lift the existing emergency public health declaration that has been in place in Trinidad and Tobago since 2020. This, in specific reference, but not limited to, the Public Health Novel Coronavirus Regulations 2022, which mandates the wearing of facemasks in all health institutions, private and public, as well as where general places of businesses may deem necessary.”

According to Legal Notice No. 189, 19 September 2022, a person can be fined a sum of $5000, or face three days in jail, for failure to wear a face mask in the specified areas.

He said this is now unnecessary, and even harsh, given the WHO’s latest declaration. Notably, the United States is set to similarly lift its own national emergency declaration (re Covid-19) on May 11, 2023.

Gopeesingh added that it is notable that the WHO declared the pandemic a public health emergency of international concern on January 30, 2020, the very same day he first raised this matter in the Lower House of Parliament for urgent public debate as then Caroni East MP.

“It was memorably rejected, denying the entire citizenry of Trinidad and Tobago the right to learn some degree of awareness of the significant threat the then nascent Covid-19 disease would have posed to their lives and our general society as a nation.”

He said, “The UNC’s efforts to raise the matter in 2020 four more times were also denied. Today, our country is still reeling from the truly devastating economic, social and medical consequences of the pandemic. Our economy is struggling to recover, our education system has been set back decades, causing a generation of children to fall behind, and most significantly, over 4700 people have tragically lost their lives in Trinidad and Tobago. Covid-19 has in fact, claimed 6.9 million lives globally, and 0ne million in the USA.”

“Now, even as we move to embrace living in a world devoid of the devastating Covid-19 restrictions on our basic freedoms, we are still awaiting the WHO’s recommendations, currently being developed, as to how countries should continue to manage the ongoing Covid-19 threats.”

Gopeesingh said we must remain critically aware that this disease is still a significant health threat. Millions of people globally and thousands nationally are now living with post covid-19 long term debilitating medical problems. These include mental health, cardiac, neurologic and daily functional disabilities issues.”

He said in the wake of this, the Government and Ministry of Health must now inform the population with urgency as to what medical management policies and programs they have implemented, or plan to implement, to deal with this threat. They must report to the nation where and how our citizens who are affected with long term Covid-19, and indeed, those who will contract Covid-19, can receive critical health care and support to alleviate their continued medical threat and suffering.

He added, let us never forget the over 4700 citizens who lost their lives, and the ongoing trauma that their families and loved ones continue to suffer. It is a tragic and unacceptable fact that the Government and Health Ministry has never truly answered for its failed and questionable management of the Covid-19 pandemic in the past three years. These answers remain as relevant and necessary as they did two years ago, when the Government was prompted to appoint the Seemungal Committee to probe the issue due to public outcry over T&T’s abnormally high Covid-19 death rate.”

Let us hope that, this time around, the Government will employ competence, due diligence and humanity in this new post Covid-19 pandemic reality, in service to the citizens of this country, even as we collectively move forward as a stronger, wiser, healthier nation.