On the anniversary of the declaration of COVID-19 as a worldwide pandemic, there are renewed calls for a Commission of Enquiry into the Government's handling of the situation.
The call comes from former People's Partnership Education Minister, Dr Tim Gopeesingh.
In a statement Dr Gopeesingh said, "The pandemic anniversary finds me reflecting on Trinidad and Tobago’s own COVID-19 history, where citizens have endured one of the worst managed responses under the (Dr) Keith Rowley administration."
“The Government, without proper policy formation, indulged in reactionary, whimsical, economically devastating lockdowns and border closures, resulting in thousands of citizens being stranded abroad, relegated to poverty and statelessness,” the former government minister stated.
According to Dr Gopeesingh, the public health sector, which he says was “already on the verge of collapse then”, was also plagued by a myriad of new problems. He pointed to citizens receiving inadequate testing, no pharmaceuticals, and late procurement of vaccines, as well as insufficient PPEs, ventilator support in the ICUs, and medical staff at the public hospitals.
"This resulted in T&T having one of the highest Covid-19 death rates per million population in the world, with over 4600 people dying to date," Dr Gopeesingh said.
These, and what he called much more failures are chronicled in the Seemungal Report, which was commissioned by Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley in 2022.
Dr Gopeesingh said 19 major recommendations were made by this committee, but claimed that to date, none has been implemented.
"Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar and I have long called for a Commission of Enquiry into the Government’s handling of the Covid-19 pandemic. The Rowley administration owes the population answers for every single Covid-19 death in the past three years, as well as a duty of care for their medical well-being for the future. At this dire stage, nothing else is acceptable," he said.