Monday, October 6, 2014


I can hear you say "what? are you crazy?" No. I'm not crazy and I am deadly serious. I am totally aware of how important Carnival is for our national psyche, business, tourism and just about everything else that defines us a country. But Carnival is (more or less) a short four months away and there is a huge potential problem looming on the horizon. Let me spell it out for you:

Ebola is a virus that is communicated by bodily fluids such as blood or saliva. But those aren't the only types of fluids in our body. There are fluids that come when (ahem) there is a certain 'intimacy' between people. There is also a bodily fluid commonly known as sweat!! Now, at Carnival there is a heck of a lot of sweat both at the many fetes around the country as well as a certain amount of sharing of drinks (saliva), not to mention the 'intimacy' that traditionally causes our birth rate to balloon nine months later.

Let me say at the outset that I do not have an answer to the question as to whether or not Carnival 2015 should be banned or postponed. All I know about Ebola is as follows: it cannot be transmitted in the air and will not mutate into an airborne form; the most people at risk are the healthcare providers and family and friends of the Ebola patient, and finally, the good news (and the bad news) is that in order to get Ebola you must have direct contact with an infectious bodily fluid!

The question arose in my mind when I heard about the person who arrived in the United States some two weeks ago and then after arrival succumbed to the virus. Apparently, there are potentially about 114 people that he had been in contact with since he arrived. To make matters worse, the victim went to the hospital, was misdiagnosed and sent home before being admitted a crucial two days later. And this was in the great United States of America whose health care services are reportedly better than ours! That there are only 114 potential victims is instructive for us. How many people does a reveler bump into on the streets at Carnival time or at a Carnival fete? How prepared are our hospitals for dealing with a potential Ebola victim?

Social media in Venezuela was reporting about two weeks ago nine mysterious deaths in a city just south of Caracas. The reports suggested an Ebola type illness. But there has been nothing in the major news reporting agencies so no one can say that the reports are accurate. The problem is that Maduro's Government ain't exactly open in all things and may or may not have ordered a cover up. It is nothing short of a tragedy that we cannot trust their denials (if it ever comes to that). But Venezuela is just next door. Has Ebola arrived in our next door neighbour's yard? Again, I really don't know, but I am of the view that we should all be on high alert, and unfortunately, as I said,  Maduro and his cronies simply can't be trusted to tell us the truth. And to make matters worse, they (Maduro and company) are not in the habit of allowing unrestricted news reporting in that unfortunate country. So, the bottom line is that we just don't know if Ebola is in fact in Venezuela or not. And a heck of a lot of Venezuelans come over for Carnival ... as well as a heck of a lot of other people!

Heathrow airport is a major world hub for airlines. People from Europe use it as a departure point for the Caribbean (Trinidad Carnival) and it is a departure and arrival point for practically the whole of Africa. You've only got to look at it to see that there are huge potential problems facing us. Somebody on the London Underground could easily come into contact with somebody who has the virus. The mortality rate of Ebola is staggeringly high.

What all of this means is that the Health Authorities in T&T need now to step up to the plate and tell us exactly what they do know about Ebola, what steps they have already taken to control, isolate and counteract the virus if it rears its ugly head on our shores, what additional steps they are planning to take should there be an Ebola victim in Trinidad, where will the victim be taken, that there are plans afoot to be able to contain the virus, that training is taking place now (and "now" must mean "now") of health care providers, what steps that are being taken to prevent any one with Ebola from even getting on a plane bound for T&T. Putting it shortly, what are the control measures that are being taken and implemented  to protect the country now from this epidemic?

The danger is real. It is much more real than, say,  the dangers highlighted by Dr. Rowley's rather pathetic bleatings about supporting UN resolutions on ISIS or  Wayne Kublalsingh killing himself slowly, or even the out of control murder rate. Unfortunately, this is a non-political issue and therefore there is no profit in saying "hold it Sherriff, she's headin' for the strawberry patch!"  But it is a very, very hard question that ought to be faced and discussed now. As a society we need to look at this very hard question and answer it. As I said, I don't know the answer as to whether or not we should ban or postpone Carnival 2015. I simply haven't got enough information to make a proper decision. But I do know enough to be able to say that this potentially could be the most serious crisis that we have ever as a country had to face!! And it is better that we take the hard decisions now than suffer a disaster because we just wouldn't discuss it and take appropriate steps before it hits us squarely in the face!!


  1. You bring up a very serious question here, but whatever the situation I do not believe that anyone in the present Government has the testicular fortitude to make what would be such an unpopular decision.

  2. Maybe not, but I bet the Opposition doesn't either!!

  3. You are right. There ought to be a serious discussion about this now.

  4. Since you published this post a nurse in Spain has contracted ebola, making her the first person outside of Africa to get the disease. You must have a crystal ball or something. This is really serious. Thank you for raising it.

  5. The BBC is reporting that there are about 100 new cases of Ebola per day in Africa and that they expect the disease to hit France, England and Germany very soon. You are right! We need to discuss Carnival 2015 now.

  6. Yes! Or hell will take us after Carnival!