Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : October 21st 2014 Contents A5
Tuesday, October 21, 2014 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
A meeting will be held next
Wednesday involving the author-
ities and all Carnival stakeholders
to discuss whether Carnival should
be cancelled because of the Ebola
threat and a recommendation will
later be made to Cabinet.
This was conveyed to reporters
yesterday by Brig Anthony Phillips-
Spencer, head of the National Ebola
Prevention, Information and
Response team (NEPIR) after its first
meeting with representatives from
various sectors, including security,
military, fire and prison services, air-
port, Immigration Health, Tobago
House of Assembly, ODPM, the
National Carnival Commission, pri-
vate and public-sector agencies.
NEPIR adopted its mission to inte-
grate and co-ordinate all efforts to
be pursued with all available capa-
bilities to prevent Ebola spread and
protect all in T&T.
This includes responding and
recovery aspects should any spread
Phillips-Spencer said the Carnival
issue was considered at yesterday s
meeting in terms of NEPIR s respon-
NCC was represented by NCC
chief executive officer Allison Demas.
He said his team was given infor-
mation that required that a full sub-
mission be made on the issue in sub-
sequent discussions with all
Spencer said that consultation
would be held on October 29. He
said his team would share its rec-
ommendations on the issue with
Cabinet based on intelligent advice.
The meeting will be held the day
before the weekly Cabinet meeting.
How Carnival will be handled will
be the prototype for how NEPIR will
determine how to handle other major
gatherings, including those related
to Christmas, sporting and cultural
"Carnival will be our yardstick to
determine our capability on all of
this," he added.
After the meeting, NCC sources
said at yesterday s meeting the NCC
proposed a meeting between the
authorities and all Carnival stake-
holders and civil society groups at
the Queen s Park Savannah on Octo-
They had noted Carnival is held
in 54 regions in Trinidad and also
in Tobago and there should be some
caution on the issue since it was a
significant contributor to the econ-
omy, from ground and air transport,
restaurants and hotels, mas itself,
and even banks which gave loans for
costumes. They underscored Carnival
is a "serious business."
At the press conference, Phillips-
Spencer said the team had several
legislative proposals on the Ebola
issue, including improving the
advanced passenger information sys-
tem as a priority. He detailed NEPIR s
Caribbean Public Health Agency
(Carpha) head, Dr James Hospedales,
said the Ebola threat was significant
since it was the largest outbreak ever.
He said while Nigeria and Senegal
have been downgraded by the World
Health Organisation, the situation
continued in Sierra Leone, Liberia
and Guinea and the Congo.
Hospedales said while likelihood
of someone among Caribbean islands
or T&T getting Ebola was low, the
impact it could have was catastrophic
and all capabilites must therefore be
Pan American Health Organisa-
tion/World Health Organisation rep-
resentative Yitades Gebre who com-
mended the Government s efforts
on the issue, said the presence of
the NEPIR team demonstrated T&T
would be able to address the issue
in an organised manner
Saying Ebola was a "no risk" sit-
uation for T&T, Gebre said each
Ebola case could have as many as
He said PAHO/WHO advised
restricted movement of people from
affected states but he felt as long as
people did not have symptoms, they
should not be banned.
Civil Aviation director Ramesh
Lutchmedial said airlines worldwide
were alerted by yesterday of T&T s
travel ban on Ebola-affected states
and protocols would be finalised by
the end of the week for steps to be
taken in the event of a plane-borne
Ebola case landing in T&T.
Office of Disaster Preparedness
Management s Dr Stephen Ramroop
said the ODPM was handling train-
ing, including practising scenarios
of Ebola entry via air, sea or land,
and training people who would han-
dle cases in the use of protective
That particularly involves police,
who will have to issue the quarantine
order for a case. Ambulances are
already prepared and the ODPM has
"iso-pods" for patient transfer.
The Tobago House of Assembly s
Allan Stewart detailed Tobago s activ-
Ahead for discussion is movement
of people between both islands,
transport of possible Tobago cases
to the Caura quarantine unit and
whether Tobago can self-support in
Phillips-Spencer said the team s
framework included points made by
WHO s checklist for Ebola preven-
He said an integral requirement
for the effort was that it required
broad dialogue and not public-sector
"There s no room for hit-and-
miss in this and we don t want reac-
tionary measures after a case occurs,"
Whether Carnival 2015 is cancelled or not
depends on the exponential rise in Ebola over
the next month says Health Minister Fuad
He was speaking at a forum on Carnival 2015
and Ebola at the Sir Arthur Lewis Institute of
Social and Economic Sciences (SALISES), Uni-
versity of the West Indies, St Augustine Campus,
Saying his ministry had not taken any sug-
gestions to Cabinet to cancel Carnival, Khan
said both the Ministry of Health and the National
Security Ministry continued to monitor the
spread of the virus.
Most of the panellists at the forum, including
Trinbago Unified Calypsonian Organisation
president Lutalo Masimba (Brother Resistance),
president of PanTrinbago Keith Diaz, president
of the National Carnival Bandleaders Association
David Lopez and lecturer in Carnival Studies
Dr. Jo-Anne Tull felt cancelling the national
festival was an unnecessary decision at this
Diaz added that the NCBA had a database
of mas players, both local and foreign, and was
willing to work with ministries to provide nec-
essary information, while Masimba said calyp-
sonians were ready and willing to assist in any
educational campaigns on the virus.
"I am not saying the business of Carnival is
more important than health or the public welfare
but if we are serious about Ebola, Carnival is
next February and the Ebola outbreak is hap-
pening now," said Masimba.
However, Khan challenged the panellists and
the audience to ask themselves if they would
cancel Carnival if over the next month the cases
of Ebola increased to 10,000 cases a week.
"If Ebola is not contained if it enters the
country we are looking at a 50 per cent decrease
in population," Khan said.
Khan responded to remarks made by other
panellists that the country and citizens would
feel financial losses if Carnival was cancelled.
"We can t look at it and say we will lose $4.5
billion but we must look at it in the public inter-
est because the $4.5 million that we may lose,
if we have it (Carnival) no matter what we may
lose our population."
He said it was not just a matter of stopping
"I love Carnival but as Minister of Health I
have to watch the whole worldwide scenario.
Khan said the ministry was looking at increas-
ing activity in blood bank, one case would take
about 27 pints of blood to maintain.
He said the Ministry of Health also did not
have enough isolation chambers.
He added: "What is going on worldwide is
the development of process and procedures
looking at a very infectious and new disease.
"The World Health Organisation (WHO) has
said that there is a possibility if left unchecked
the virus could infect 10,000 a week.
"That is what we are facing in this country
and the Ministry of Health is working on watch-
ing the international exponential rise of Ebola."
Khan said while he could understand the
economics of self and could understand the
economics of nationalism, there were people
who looked after themselves and people who
look after the national interest.
"There are going to be arguments on both
sides of the fence on what is going to happen
"Are we going to stop the Carnival, yes or
no? It all depends on what the exponential rise
of Ebola is going to be like in the next month
or so," he added.
It's not necessary,
Executive director/head of the Caribbean Public Health Agency (Carpha) James Hospedales, second from right, during yesterday's media
briefing at the National Operations Centre (NOC), Knowsley, Port-of-Spain. Others in photo are, from left, Dr Yitades Gebre, Brig Anthony
Phillips-Spencer and director of NOC Garvin Heerah. PHOTO: JEFF MAYERS
Talks next week
on Carnival's fate
In wake of Ebola threat...
• Prevention: Monitoring Ebola
capabilities to scout outside T&T
on risk of threats that could
• Robust screening plan.
• Surveillance at
borders/communities on what
• Making full testing capability
available in T&T and at
international/regional levels from
• Information strategies and
public community engagement to
prepare public to ensure
measures to prevent Ebola or
respond/recover from any spread.
• Response on swift, effective
containment, involving effective
rapid response from various first
responders (ambulance, fire,
police, Defence Force, Coast
Guard for sea-entry cases).
• Strong tracing capability to
follow contacts any case may
have had to halt spread.
• Extensive aggressive
infection control and readiness to
manage a possible case, including
its removal to containment and
protection of first
• Case management relating to
the proposed Caura quarantine
centre and treatment centres.
• Managing burials.
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