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JAPANESE IN TOWN
Continued division and badgering may have
contributed to the resignation of Opposition MP
Prakash Ramadhar from the post of Congress of
the People political leader a year before his term
of office ended, sources hinted yesterday.
Elections for the post of COP leader are due
next year but Ramadhar resigned Wednesday night.
The party, however, confirmed he remained a COP
member and MP for St Augustine.
Party general secretary, Clyde Weatherhead, yes-
terday said Ramadhar had tendered his resignation
to the party s national executive on Wednesday
"In his letter, Mr Ramadhar has indicated an
effective date for his decision, which he suggests
will allow the party sufficient time to organise an
election to decide on a successor and facilitate
immediate transition which will ensure the con-
tinued work of the COP in charting its future,
which we started at the retreat last year," Weath-
Ramadhar didn t answer calls yesterday.
But COP sources claimed yesterday that Ramad-
har had become disenchanted with continuing
criticism and "badgering" that dogged his tenure
with the People s Partnership government and
Ramadhar had been the COP s second leader
since succeeding former COP leader Winston Dook-
eran in 2011 and gained a second term in 2014 in
a battle with his former chairman Carolyn Seep-
ersad-Bachan, who had been supported by Dookeran.
Asked what reasons Ramadhar gave for his res-
ignation, Weatherhead said he didn t detail his
position but said he (Ramadhar) would say more
at Sunday s COP National Council meeting.
Asked if division in the party might have con-
tributed to the resignation, Weatherhead said he
could not speak for anyone.
He said the COP executive would recommend
how the party would proceed and that deputy
leader Dr Anirudh Mahabir had been acting in
recent weeks since Ramadhar was overseas.
On the perception the COP is a "spent force",
Weatherhead said simply: "That s not our percep-
COP sources said with Ramadhar s resignation
elections for the leadership may have to be held
Commenting on Ramadhar s resignation last
night, United National Congress leader Kamla Per-
sad-Bissessar said she was surprised by the move
but did not know if he had succumbed to pressure
within the party.
She added it was now for the party membership
to decide on a way ahead.
MP Dr Bhoe Tewarie, who had been with the
COP and joined the UNC last year, added: "COP
members need to come together to determine if
they have the will to support the COP as a political
party, or whether it needs to evolve into something
Asked the ruling PNM s thoughts on Ramadhar s
resignation, PNM general secretary Ashton Ford
said: "Prakash who...?" GA
Insect Vector Control Division author-
ities handling the Zika threat are today
spraying areas of St George West, including
a residential area in Diego Martin, where
T&T s first official Zika case was discov-
ered, Health Ministry officials confirmed
On Wednesday, Health Minister Terrence
Deyalsingh, while on a spraying tour in
South, announced T&T had recorded its
first official Zika case after laboratory tests.
He said the country s first case was a
woman, age 61, who had returned recently
from a visit to New Zealand, where there
were no reported cases of Zika.
She presented symptoms of the virus on
February 10 and testing was done February
12.Deyalsingh said the case was confirmed
by the Caribbean Public Health Agency and
investigations would begin to determine
how the woman contracted the virus. He
added she was at her home recovering but
did not state where she lived.
But senior health and municipal corpo-
ration officials yesterday confirmed the first
Zika case was recorded in St George West,
in a particularly thickly populated western
residential community of Diego Martin.
The T&T Guardian obtained the name
of the community but officials said due to
patient confidentiality they preferred that
the name of the area not be publicised.
They said that had initially been done
with the Chikungunya episode and only
when that virus became widespread were
the areas in which it was occurring detailed.
Insector Vector officials initially visited
the particular Diego Martin community
yesterday to begin spraying but many res-
idents were not at home.
As such, they sent out email notification
through the Diego Martin Regional Corpo-
ration (DMRC) and will return to the com-
munity today to start the exercise.
The email, however, advised residents
who had young children, were pregnant or
had a serious illness to vacate the area during
It also advised the residents to cover birds
and food items and to turn off air condi-
tioning units if they planned to stay inside,
since that could trap the fog inside rooms
and be harmful.
The T&T Guardian learned that residents
of that area were also trying to get the
DMRC to clean drains and have also alerted
all residents to flush out gutterings, plant
pots and other possible mosquito breeding
A schedule of spraying is also expected
to be announced for other St George West
areas over the coming days.
Deyalsingh didn t answer calls last night
but is expected to give an update on the
Zika issue today.
After spreading to 21 countries, including
Caribbean states---neighbouring Venezuela,
Guyana, Barbados and Suriname---Jamaica
recorded its first Zika case over two weeks
Zika, the latest mutation of the influenza
virus, is borne by the aedes aegypti mos-
quito. It is reported to have milder symptoms
than the chikungunya virus.
However, in Brazil where 1.5 million cases
have been reported, there have been claims
the virus is linked to microcephaly, newborn
babies with abnormally small heads and
Investigations are also underway on claims
of links with the Guillain-Barre Syndrome,
an auto immune condition involving nerve
cells, causing muscle weakness and some-
times paralysis and death.
At a UWI health symposium on Zika and
H1N1 recently, UWI molecular
genetics/virology professor Dr Christine
Carrington said Zika may already be in T&T
undetected, since it had mild symptoms
and people might not go to hospitals for
She said, however, that causative basis
with microcephaly and Guillain-Barre Syn-
drome have yet to be firmly established.
However, Carrington agreed pregnant
women should be cautious. Saying mosquito
eradication was necessary, she said Zika was
not a threat to a healthy person who is not
Deyalsingh at the symposium distanced
himself from the possibility of abortions for
a pregnant woman who may get the Zika
If such a woman wanted an abortion,
they would have to consider that T&T s law
only allowed abortion if the mother s life
was in danger, he added.
Also at the symposium, Deyalsingh said
businesspeople had suggested using genet-
ically modified mosquitoes to destroy the
aedes aegypti but he said the risks of intro-
ducing such a species was unknown and it
would require 2.8 million such mosquitoes
to destroy 20,000 female aedes aegypti.
Two days ago, the World Health Organ-
ization confirmed it s looking at "novel
approaches" to control mosquitoes known
to spread the infection, including research
into genetically modified (GM) insects.
While Brazil has expressed interest in that
option, Dominica recently vetoed it. An Indi-
an company also said it has two Zika vaccine
candidates ready for pre-clinical trials.
Insect Vector Unit goes in
T&T first Zika case from Diego...
as COP leader
Two Japanese cruise ship passengers enjoy themselves as models from Island People, in Carnival costumes, entertain them at the
Cruise Ship Complex, Port-of-Spain, yesterday, after their vessel, Asuka II, docked in Port-of-Spain. PHOTO: NICOLE DRAYTON
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