Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : October 17th 2014 Contents RICHARD LORD
T&T yesterday joined some other Cari-
com states in implementing an immediate
ban on visitors from African countries
with the Ebola virus.
Health Minister Dr Fuad Khan made the
announcement during yesterday s post-
Cabinet news conference at the Office of
the Prime Minister, St Clair.
He said the Cabinet "had a long delib-
eration, and it came to the decision that
with immediate effect, any person from
Sierra Leone, Guinea, Democratic Republic
of the Congo, Liberia and Nigeria will not
be allowed entry into T&T.
"Any person who has visited those coun-
tries within a six-week period will also be
Any citizen of T&T "who has visited those
countries for the last six weeks will be sub-
jected to an initial quarantine period of 21
days in the first instance," he added.
There would be no restrictions on US
citizens visiting T&T, he added.
Khan also said Prime Minister Kamla Per-
sad-Bissessar had banned all ministers and
government officials from travelling to
Ebola-affected areas or travelling to those
Cabinet also agreed to establish the Ebola
Prevention and Response Team, which will
co-ordinate and manage all types of Ebola-
related activities and develop a strategic
plan, Khan said.
Acting Chief of Defence Staff Brig Gen
Anthony Phillips-Spencer will head that
He said that team would also discuss
whether Carnival 2015 should be postponed
or cancelled, and on the basis of its advice,
the Cabinet will then decide.
A medical management team is to be set
up if any case of Ebola is discovered in the
country. Khan said there were no suspected
or confirmed cases to date.
He said President Anthony Carmona has
to issue a proclamation deeming the Ebola
virus a dangerous infectious disease to allow
the Government to implement the required
The governments of St Vincent, St Kitts,
St Lucia took similar action earlier this week.
Grenada is contemplating similar action
while Jamaica Prime Minister Portia Simpson
Miller has banned all travel by her officials
to those countries.
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Tobago was thrown into panic mode yesterday
after word had spread that a Liberian vessel had
docked at the Scarborough port and the occupants
were sightseeing in the capital.
However, it proved to be a false alarm due to a
misunderstanding in a radio communication between
the port and T&T Coast Guard officials.
The T&T Guardian understands that the mix-
up occurred when a formal request was made by
the vessel Alley Cat, which had a three-man crew,
to come ashore.
An employee attached to the Port Authority in
Scarborough, who spoke on condition of anonymity,
said the request was transmitted via wireless radio
to the Coast Guard around 9 am.
It is alleged that the Coast Guard officers misheard
the origin of the ship as Liberia when it was in fact
Around 11 am the crew was allowed to dock at
the Coast Guard base but were then not allowed
to disembark the vessel. Instead, they were told
officials from the Tobago Regional Health Authority
and the Tobago House of Assembly had to clear
them to ensure they showed no signs of Ebola.
The source said no THA official eventually made
that trip as the issue was sorted out by the Coast
Guard and the crew was allowed to disembarks
around 3 pm.
The port employee said the experience caused
some level of hysteria on the port as they have not
yet been trained to deal with the virus
"I cannot understand how they expect us to deal
with Ebola and we are not trained to do so.
"Before everything was sorted out they wanted
us to go on board but we refused because we have
no gears or anything to protect ourselves at all so
we are all panicking," the source said.
The port worker said there was also no set protocol
when it came to yachties, since some of them would
also dock and disembark their vessels without mak-
ing a request to do so
"I am calling on the authorities to take this Ebola
thing seriously. This was just a scare and it is clear
we are in no way, form or fashion prepared to deal
with this deadly virus and we need to get our acts
together because the first cruise ship is expected
to call on November 2," the worker added.
The situation developed even as the Tobago House
of Assembly (THA) met to make its own plans to
deal with the virus.
A release said the two-hour meeting, which was
chaired by THA Chief Secretary Orville London at
the Calder Hall Administrative Complex, was attend-
ed by senior representatives of the Customs and
Excise Division, Immigration, police, Port Authority,
Airports Authority, Health Division and the Tobago
Emergency Management Authority.
At the meeting London urged Tobagonians not
to panic and said public education about the disease
and its precautions was essential.
Friday, October 17, 2014 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
public panic at
Ebola scare forces Cabinet's hand...
for 16TH OCTOBER, 2014
The minister also said the Government
was spending millions to procure special
personal protective equipment for use by
medical professionals to treat citizens who
may contract the virus.
The equipment includes head and face
covers, goggles, face shields, trunk and
abdomen aprons, rubber boots and shoe
He said most of that equipment was
available at Nipdec and had been delivered
to health centres and county medical offi-
cers of health offices across the country.
Khan said hazardous material suits,
which offer more protection, were to be
acquired. The Government was also setting
up an Ebola isolation unit at Caura Hos-
pital, he added.
"It is specific for the isolation of Ebola
and removal of hazardous waste and treat-
ment of Ebola patients," Khan added.
He said the unit would cost $3 million
(US$500,000) and the suits $20,00 each.
Khan dismissed a demand by Public
Services Association (PSA) president Wat-
son Duke that workers who might be
required to treat Ebola victims should be
given $10 million insurance.
He said that demand was unfair.
"That is bordering on ridiculous," he
He said the Government was committed
to do all it could to ensure that Ebola did
not kill anybody in this country.
(See Page A5)
Equipment, isolation unit to come
Members of the
perform on the
second night of
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