Política

33 Trinis finally cleared after 70-day COVID ordeal

Ram­di­al, who had is­sued an apol­o­gy for sug­gest­ing the Gov­ern­ment’s ini­tial stance not to re­open the bor­ders to al­low them to re­turn had a racial un­der­tone, said while he felt the com­ment was tak­en a lit­tle out of con­text, al­though he ad­mit­ted it did even­tu­al­ly spur ac­tion on the mat­ter.

“Im­me­di­ate­ly Philip Ram­di­al be­came pop­u­lar and race re­mark and all of these things, but so be it and I think it help us along the way. Be­cause de­ci­sions start tak­ing place,” he said.

Ram­di­al said while he un­der­stood the Gov­ern­ment’s stance, he did feel their pub­lic re­la­tions could have been bet­ter, as it led to sig­nif­i­cant frus­tra­tion among the group, none more so than his wife Ann

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Af­ter 70 days wait­ing to en­sure they were safe of COVID-19, 33 Trinida­di­an na­tion­als were fi­nal­ly re­leased from the step-down fa­cil­i­ty in Tacarigua and al­lowed to re­turn to their homes yes­ter­day.

It brought to an end the long saga which had seen them in pur­ga­to­ry in par­adise, as the Bar­ba­dos gov­ern­ment ini­tial­ly took them af­ter they missed the dead­line to re­turn to Trinidad and To­ba­go be­fore the bor­ders were closed at mid­night March 22.

The group was fi­nal­ly al­lowed to re­turn to this coun­try on April 21 and had been in 14-day quar­an­tine at the Na­tion­al Rac­quet Cen­tre un­til yes­ter­day, when the group was of­fi­cial­ly cleared for re­lease at around noon.

With­in the hour, their rel­a­tives ar­rived to pick them up from the fa­cil­i­ty they had called a home away from home.

While most de­part­ing the fa­cil­i­ty ex­pressed re­lief and joy and looked for­ward to home-cooked meals like bar­be­cue chick­en and cur­ry duck pre­pared by their rel­a­tives, oth­ers thanked the me­dia and waved as they left.

Phillip Ram­di­al told re­porters many still did not un­der­stand what the group ex­pe­ri­enced in their quest to re­turn home fol­low­ing a cruise in the Mid­dle East.

There were things that I felt and the group felt could have been bet­ter, could have been more, let we say le­nient to us. Show a lit­tle more kind­ness, un­der­stand­ing while they might be right, they sup­posed to do things right al­so,” he told me­dia as he was be­ing dri­ven out the cen­tre.

“We felt a sense of not be­long­ing to the coun­try and we were hop­ing then they would have been a lit­tle more car­ing, a lit­tle more com­pas­sion­ate, un­der­stand­ing our jour­ney, which I feel up to now they nev­er un­der­stood where we went, when we went and our jour­ney back.”

He added, “So I am hop­ing not too long from now, we will sort that out and they will bet­ter un­der­stand us. Why we were ag­i­tat­ed, why we had hate, why we had all these things. At the end of it, to­day we are hap­py to re­turn home. Our stay here is, we ex­pect to be quar­an­tined and we are hap­py to be re­turn­ing to our homes.”

He promised to speak to the me­dia again when the group had of­fi­cial­ly set­tled to ex­plain their po­si­tion.

“I will ex­plain to you all our jour­ney, when it start­ed on the 25th of Feb­ru­ary, where we were when they say lock­down, what I did to get the peo­ple as close to home as pos­si­ble in Bar­ba­dos,” he said.

Ram­di­al, who had is­sued an apol­o­gy for sug­gest­ing the Gov­ern­ment’s ini­tial stance not to re­open the bor­ders to al­low them to re­turn had a racial un­der­tone, said while he felt the com­ment was tak­en a lit­tle out of con­text, al­though he ad­mit­ted it did even­tu­al­ly spur ac­tion on the mat­ter.

“Im­me­di­ate­ly Philip Ram­di­al be­came pop­u­lar and race re­mark and all of these things, but so be it and I think it help us along the way. Be­cause de­ci­sions start tak­ing place,” he said.

Ram­di­al said while he un­der­stood the Gov­ern­ment’s stance, he did feel their pub­lic re­la­tions could have been bet­ter, as it led to sig­nif­i­cant frus­tra­tion among the group, none more so than his wife Ann.

Ann Ram­di­al told re­porters she had to be hos­pi­talised at the Er­ic Williams Med­ical Sci­ences Com­plex due to high blood pres­sure dur­ing her time at the cen­tre.

“To tell your own cit­i­zens you can­not come in­to the coun­try and stay put where you are. I still feel that hurt and anger and my health was de­te­ri­o­rat­ing while in there be­cause I spent a night in Mt Hope hos­pi­tal be­cause my pres­sure was high and to­day I might have to go back Mt Hope again be­cause I feel that same anger again,” she said.

Be­fore they left, the group took a pic­ture with a ban­ner thank­ing the Bar­ba­di­an gov­ern­ment for their role in get­ting them back home.