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Xmas grief as Trinidad and Tobago records most covid deaths in a day - Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

AS families prepared to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ the grim news came on Christmas Eve that Trinidad and Tobago has recorded its worst-ever number of deaths from covid19, as 37 more people died. This surpassed two previous grim milestones earlier this month of 32 (December 15) and 33 (December 18).

The Ministry of Health’s update on Friday said, among the latest victims is a teenage girl.

The ministry also said 964 more people became infected (based on samples taken from Monday to Thursday) – the second highest daily rate after 984 cases reported on December 3.

In all, some 16,543 people across TT are now battling covid19, the majority at home in self-isolation, in this festive season.

All this came in a tumultuous week of toing and froing between the Government and labour movement over the Prime Minister's recent proposal that government-paid employees be vaccinated by January 15 (unless medically exempted) at risk of being furloughed from their jobs.

After Dr Rowley laid down the measure at his news briefing last Saturday, the Joint Trade Union Movement (JTUM) met with Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi but with little sign of consensus on a way forward.

Accusing the PM of being "unilateral, high-handed, dictatorial" JTUM head Ancel Roget urged him to withdraw the vaccine mandate.

"We are encouraging our members to be vaccinated. But we are pro-choice.

"I myself took the vaccine, I myself believe in the science. But I believe it is the right of any individual to accept or reject and that belief is shared across the board by all members of JTUM."

Al-Rawi, in reply, said: "The Government is not in a position to withdraw its policy statement."

He said the fact of 2,662 people dying of covid19, the prospect of mass burials, and the doubling of omicron infections every 2.5 days meant it was essential to act quickly.

"The normal process of collective bargaining does not apply in a pandemic," the AG added, saying the Government must act urgently to save lives.

Associations for the three protective services – police, prisons and fire ­– sought incentivisation for their members to be vaccinated such as extra pay and/or healthcare prioritisation.

The PM in his Christmas message urged citizens during the pandemic to be aware of not just their rights but also their responsibilities. He offered condolences to the bereaved.

Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar in her Christmas message said, "I urge everyone to continue to follow the health protocols and to please consider getting vaccinated."

President Paula-Mae Weeks lent her support to public vaccinations in her Christmas message.

Another row has broken out regarding the disposal of the bodies of the deceased. Chief Medical Officer Dr Roshan Parasram last Saturday declared plans to set up a large refrigerated storage facility in Central Trinidad to be accessed by funeral homes.

Funeral association head Keith Belgrove told Newsday the need

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