The Republic of Trinidad and Tobago is into the second week of tightened lockdown restrictions for three weeks, as the number of new COVID-19 cases hits record highs.
A report from Reuters states that Prime Minister Keith Rowley said that under the new restrictions, only businesses deemed essential services such as supermarkets, pharmacies and financial services would remain open, for reduced hours, in addition to the key energy and manufacturing sectors.
Shopping malls, cinemas, theaters, restaurants, bars, places of worship, beauty salons and fitness centers have been closed in a bid to prevent the spread of the virus.
“Our healthcare system is now in danger of (being) overrun because of the rate of infection we are experiencing,” Rowley said, as the country faces a potential shortage of hospital beds.
As 2,506 active COVID-19 cases have been registered in Trinidad and Tobago, Health officials warn that the healthcare system could be overwhelmed in a matter of days, if the trend continues.
179 people have died and the number continues to rise since the start of the pandemic and one particular factor for concern is the arrival of the highly transmissible Brazilian P1 variant, first identified in a Venezuelan migrant.
42,455 people in Trinidad and Tobago have been vaccinated so far as the Ministry of Health continues the national vaccination programme using only COVID-19 vaccines that are approved by the World Health Organization (WHO).
The Trinidad and Tobago government has set up a COVID-19 hotline staffed by doctors for people who suspect they have any symptoms and people are encouraged to wear a mask over the nose and mouth when out in public and keep their distance from others (6 feet).
The permission granted for non-essential retail and food businesses such as street-food vendors to remain opened until midnight, seems to be giving rise to another problem where a lot of new food vendors are now popping up in the business.