Trinidad and Tobago ramps up measures against coronavirus

FILE PHOTO: Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister Keith Rowley addresses the audience while claiming victory for his ruling party in a general election in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, August 10, 2020. REUTERS/Andrea De Silva

PORT OF SPAIN (Reuters) - Trinidad and Tobago’s government will implement tougher measures aimed at reducing the spread of the coronavirus after the number of infections increased in August, the prime minister said on Saturday.

The Caribbean nation registered a jump in COVID-19 cases in August after a gradual rise in July, and has now recorded 474 cases and ten fatalities. Two of the deaths were reported on Friday.

“Given how the virus has been behaving in other populations worldwide... we expect that we will be able to control the level of infection in a situation where our parallel (health) system would be able to cope,” Prime Minister Keith Rowley told reporters.

The new measures, which will go into effect on Monday and last 28 days, include the closure of beaches and places of worship, as well as a ban on dining at restaurants and bars.

No more than five people will be able to gather at a time, and schools will no longer re-open in September as planned. As well, the Attorney General will consider legislation to make face masks mandatory.

“The time for persuasion has now passed and we will take such action,” Rowley said.

Reporting by Linda Hutchinson-Jafar; Editing by Daina Beth Solomon and Daniel Wallis