Saturday, 14 March, 2020 Filed in: TGIF
NO Trinidadian was surprised that one of Canada’s first Covid-19 patients passed through Trinidad & Tobago; the wonder is that we haven’t yet been detected as the epicentre of the spread of the pandemic to the entire Western hemisphere. Every country on our side of the world could probably prevent contagion by simply quarantining every passenger on every flight from Trinidad, no questions asked.
We start with a direct and substantial link to the place where it all began: although they’re down in number from the peak in the Patrick Manning days, we have many Chinese-from-China who work in Trinidad but commute home regularly.
And it is typically Trinidadian that no one will be able to say how many have landed in Trinidad since January.
And, if anyone does come up with a number, even the Minister of Health — indeed, ESPECIALLY the Minister of Health — the smart reaction will be to reject it in toto; or at least to multiply it by ten. Remember, we lied in 2004 (I think it was) about the yellow fever epidemic to avoid embarrassing the sitting — need I say PNM? — government and we still cannot declare with any credibility the number of people killed in the 1990 attempted coup.
That is how they put us; or that is how we stay.
Either way, we don’t need to have had thousands of infected Chinese-from-China travelling to Trinidad.
We only need one.
A single infected person landing in Trinidad between New Year’s Day and Ash Wednesday would automatically have become a “super-spreader". The asymptomatic Wang Yu coughs on one person in Rituals, that person goes to one Carnival fete.
And everybody there goes to ten Carnival events themselves.
And limes the panyard in-between.
It’s all over, bar the shouting and the burials.
With 80 per cent of Covid-19 cases being so mild as to go unnoticed, Trinidad may already have the highest global per capita rate of infection, just like how, after Britain, we contributed the highest per capita number of I-Sissy jihadists who went to Syria to murder people for Allah.
And we might find 90 per cent of local cases remain mild because, I want to believe, Trinis have greater resistance to microbes than most people. We develop robust immune systems from almost everything we do, like eating with our hands at roadside stands every day, buying food from people with more dirt under their fingernails than Trini gangsters have on Trini politicians, swimming at Chaguaramus in a thick suspension of faecal matter for half-a-century and standing jammed up on top of one another in lines everywhere. In a Trini queue, trying to scratch the back of your head ends up as picking the nose of the person behind you.
And nobody push one pan or take one jump yet.
Additionally, Trinidadians are always startled by the natural, entirely predictable consequences of their own decisions. They build houses all the way up mountains and are shocked when drizzles turn into floods. They do away with trains and are astonished when people buy cars. They allow, free-sheet, the importation of cheap vehicles, keep gasoline prices subsidised for generations, and are stunned by the amount of traffic it have.
Like the Americans and the Brits, we can only be relaxed over what is probably already an epidemic here because we just haven’t bothered to test anyone; what we don’t know, we tell ourselves, can’t hurt us. The more-or-less insane, man-child, moronic, science-doubting, opportunist, transactional squatter in the White House has even publicly declared he didn’t want a cruise ship to dock in California because his “numbers” were better if it just sailed around the Pacific forever. And that idiot in No 10 Downing Street boasted — at the launch of his own government’s resistance plan — of shaking the hands of people with the virus!
But you take the full measurement of the tight monkey-pants Trinidad is in when you understand that the bulk of the people with real economic power — who effectively determine national policy — are admirers of that morbidly obese ignorant charlatan, the chump Trump; the people in charge here are the last ones you should choose to trust with your life.
But God is ah Trini, we like to say, and God protects fools and drunks, we prove every day. Our own only Great White Hope is that Trinis will turn out to be mainly idle carriers, people who pass on the disease but don’t suffer its worst effects themselves, like our politicians.
Because, in Trinidad, we have only two responses to any crisis, the first being one of general application and the second being modifiable to the instant case.
So our plan to combat the pandemic will be a choice of : 1. Whistling in the dark/Holding a national prayer day; or 2. Quarantine fetes.
BC Pires is singing Come On, Eileen, Go ‘Way Covid-19