UNC requests justification for SoE extension
The United National Congress (UNC) calls on the government to justify the extension of the state of emergency (SoE) for another three months.
The appeal comes as the government prepares to ask parliament on Wednesday to grant the extension. The current measure expires on August 29.
At the weekly UNC press conference on Sunday, Caroni East MP Dr Rishad Seecharan and Senator Jayanti Lutchmedial said the justifications no longer exist.
Seecharan said the moving average of daily new cases was half of what it was when SoE was initially implemented, with business no longer agreeing that SoE was needed, the government had deemed it safe for children to return to school, and there are hundreds of thousands of vaccines available in Trinidad and Tobago.
He asked how the government was going to put vaccines in the arms of hesitant people, especially those in Tobago, and among healthcare workers.
“Are we as a nation punished for those who hesitate to get vaccinated? Where was the public health education for humans on the ground six months ago as to why vaccines were safe and effective? What will our position be in three months when we are not on collective immunity? There is no justification for continuing to restrict people’s rights while destroying their livelihoods.
Lutchmedial said there was a need for the government to tell the nation what it plans to accomplish during the extension. She said there was no data to show the effectiveness of the measures taken by the government.
“What are the economic plans for the next three months? Where is the data on the exact amount of job losses? Tell us how these concerns will be addressed. What strategies will they put in place that they haven’t already done? Why isn’t there a more aggressive campaign against vaccine hesitation? Tell us, is there a magic number of vaccinations from which the economy will be reopened? “
When asked if she thought people would come together if the restrictions were lifted, she replied that it was a simple matter of enforcement.
“Calling an SoE doesn’t do anything if you don’t have a proper app, so we have to apply public health guidelines and regulations. Restricting the fundamental rights and freedoms guaranteed by the constitution, is it really essential to ensure compliance with directives and good public health practices?
Seecharan said the opposition is encouraging people to get vaccinated, but the government must reach out to people with medical and religious issues. He addressed concerns about the Pfizer vaccine which has been declared safe for children 12 to 18 years old.
“The Pfizer vaccine is currently on the Emergency Use List of the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the World Health Organization (WHO), but it should be fully recognized by the FDA next week, which means the WHO would fully approve it. . This means that it would no longer be intended for emergency use. Some people say it’s experimental which means the pros outweigh the cons, but because it has been given to so many people and studies have been done, it gets full approval.
“We in the opposition have always been pro-vaccination and we advise everyone to go out and get vaccinated. “
Lutchmedial said the government should make more information in the public domain to reduce people’s fear of taking the vaccine, including the chances of experiencing a side effect. She said the information provided by scientists was not easily understood by the average person.