As health officials in Trinidad and Tobago urged the population not to panic about the discovery of the United Kingdom variant of COVID-19, Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh on Friday said there would be no new restrictions or protocols in the twin-island republic.
Speaking at a virtual press conference, Deyalsingh disclosed that a Trinidadian national had returned carrying the virus variant, he said this “index case has been successfully contained” by the existing quarantine protocols.
Research has suggested that the UK strain is more easily spread from person to person than previous strains. It is estimated to be 50 per cent more transmissible.
“It is too early to make knee-jerk, panic reactions. We don’t do that.”– Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh
Although not denying the case was of concern to authorities, Deyalsingh said the country would respond “calmly, logically and in the best interest of all”.
“The message to the public today is one of heightened concern, and we are going to be continually reviewing the epidemiological evidence as we have been doing since the start of the pandemic. Now is a time for all of us to be even more vigilant,” he said.
“It is one case so far but we are continually reviewing the evidence. At this point in time, it is not the intention of the Ministry of Health to recommend any further restrictions; that is counterproductive…But we are asking people not to gather.”
He continued, “It is too early to make knee-jerk, panic reactions. We don’t do that. We will have a considered, well thought out response for the population.”
As of January 19, 60 countries and territories outside the UK have reported imported cases or community transmission of Variant B117.
The Ministry said returning nationals from the UK will be required to be in state quarantine for 14 days, while returning nationals from all other high-risk countries will be subject to seven days state quarantine and seven days home quarantine.