The airline and check-in counter have joint responsibility to ensure that PCR results or any other documents that passengers have, are actually valid–and that is what did not happen in the particular case in New York concerning the passenger with Omicron.
Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh indicated this yesterday in Parliament replying to an Opposition query on the circumstances on T&T’s first Omicron case.
This involved a woman who departed from New York with a positive PCR test and went to Panama where she boarded with a negative antigen test. The positive test was noted by Port Health officials here.
Deyalsingh said the person in question boarded a flight in New York on December 9.
He said,“To understand what happened we must explain how the T&T Travel pass works. All people using T&T Pass must answer a questionnaire as truthfully as humanly possible. To support those truthful answers, the individual is supposed to upload their documents to support and validate what they answered.”
“At check-in counter for the airline, the airline is supposed to scrutinise the hard copies of both the point of embarcation in New York or anywhere else and they also scrutinise the point of disembarkation as what happened in Piarco.”
“There are two further checks and balances to verify the uploaded information. The final check and balance is at Piarco Airport and this was picked up where the officers noted that the PCR test was in fact a positive test result,” he added.
Deyalsingh hailed Port Health officers for being diligent in executing their tasks.
“They have been the subject of abuse by passengers over the past few months and they have to be congratulated, and it is this last check and balance at Piarco that caught this particular issue.”
He said there was a joint responsibility with the airline and check-in counter to ensure PCR or other documents are valid– not the Health Ministry.
UNC’s Roodal Moonilal asked the identification of the airline responsible for the situation.
Deyalsingh said that’s currently being investigated.
“And between the Immigration Department and the Civil Aviation Authority they will make their identification and do the necessary investigations. At this point in time I do not know the name of the airline,” he said.
Moonilal declared, “Mr Minister of Health! Are you saying that five days have elapsed and you cannot get the identity of an airline from a boarding pass of a passenger you have identified?!”
Deyalsingh said, “There was also a part of the leg of the journey that occurred in Panama so it’s not five days.”
He added: “Also it’s not a responsibility of the Health Minister to do this, it’s the responsibility of the airline–the question asked by (Moonilal) is of no surprise to me, they have been seeking to sabotage every aspect of Government’s COVID response from day one!”
“It’s not the Minister of Health’s duty to identify a boarding pass. Port Health did their due diligence. The information has been passed to the relevant authority which includes Civil Aviation Authority and the Immigration Department. We work as team We have done our part!’’