Fri | Aug 7, 2020

Trinidad cracks down on illegal migration, as COVID-19 cases increase

Published:Saturday | July 25, 2020 | 12:00 AMCMC
Trinidad and Tobago's National Security Minister, Stuart Young.

(CMC): The Trinidad and Tobago government today said it would crack down on legal Venezuelan migrants who have been facilitating the illegal entry of their relatives and friends from the South American country, as health authorities confirmed an increase in the number of COVID-19 cases here.

National Security Minister Stuart Young, speaking at a Ministry of Health virtual news conference, said the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service, Trinidad and Tobago Coast Guard, and other national security agencies will be searching for and detaining anyone involved in human trafficking or anyone harbouring illegal immigrants.

"The police are going to be launching operations. We have picked up a number of Trinidadians … bringing across illegal immigrants and they are going to be charged. The police shall be charging them,” Young said, adding that Venezuelans who are in Trinidad legally will have their documentation revoked if they are caught harbouring or helping illegal immigrants.

"Anyone found engaged in illegal activity, including the harbouring of illegal immigrants, your cards will be revoked. Any (legal) Venezuelan migrant found assisting in harbouring or bringing illegal immigrants into the country, your ability to be here will be revoked and you will be deported. Those who want to transact this business, you’re breaking the law and we will be taking action," he said. 

Young said that landlords who rent their premises to migrants must enquire whether they have the requisite documentation to be here.

"All of those persons, including landlords who want to capitalise and profit from illegal immigrants, they are putting us at risk from the spread of COVID-19,”  he said, warning that anyone caught knowingly harbouring illegal immigrants will be detained and charged as well as condemned. 

"The truth is locals are involved in the scheme of human trafficking. When you are in a community and you know (who it is) call us at 555, give the information, because those locals are putting the rest of the population at risk," Stuart said. 

Five cases linked to single contact

Chief Medical Officer Dr Roshan Parasram told reporters that the latest five cases were primary contacts of one person who had tested positive for the virus, bringing the total number of known cases to 147.

Dr Parasram confirmed that a primary school in Maraval on the outskirts of the capital had to be closed after a student, a primary contact of another positive case, was sent to school for two days while exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms.

As a result, approximately 76 children and their families will be under home quarantine for 14 days and are being monitored by health officials, Dr. Parasram said, adding that as a result of that case, there are approximately 200 secondary contacts who are also being monitored and isolated.

He said all primary contacts of another earlier positive case, said to be the main cause of the local spread, were negative.

Dr Parasram added that there has been an increase in the number of community tests being submitted within the past week.

Reinstituted restrictions

Meanwhile, Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh said the report of the first non-imported COVID-19 positive case on Tuesday has resulted in restrictions being reinstituted for homes for the aged and visits to patients in hospitals.

Deyalsingh said effective Saturday, no visitors will be allowed at homes for the aged, and that visits to patients in hospital will be restricted to one visitor per patient and only for an hour-long period.

Deyalsingh said that while the government was poised to allow the entertainment industry to reopen this week, last week’s events have resulted in those plans being reviewed.

He urged people to wear masks in public and for business owners to reinforce the no-mask, no-service policy for customers.

Deyalsingh reminded the public that COVID-19 remains alive and that people may have lowered their guard, and it was time to recommit to the public health regulations.

A Health Ministry release on Saturday noted that all five new cases “are primary contacts of a recently positive COVID-19 patient. All established protocols have been implemented."

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