Port of Spain, Trinidad — The National Carnival Commission (NCC) is contemplating postponing Carnival celebrations in 2015 due to fears associated with the Ebola virus that has claimed the lives of thousands of people mainly in West Africa.
NCC chairman Alison Demas said the threat of an Ebola outbreak is becoming more real, daily, and that it may be that the Carnival, scheduled for February 16-17, and which attracts thousands of foreigners, would have to be postponed.
“We are reminded of what happened years ago with the polio epidemic when Carnival had to be postponed. It is a bit premature to say but clearly this is something that maybe necessary because of course we would not want Carnival to be an avenue for our population and our visitors being affected by the deadly Ebola epidemic”.
Demas said the NCC was now undertaking research to determine how best to respond to the virus following deaths in the United States.
“NCC is concerned about the spread of Ebola and its implications with respect to Carnival 2015. What we have done is that we have started researching how other festivals and events are planning to cope and manage Ebola”.
She told radio listeners that it is also clear the NCC “has to engage in serious discussions with the Ministry of Health in relation to this very important topic,” since postponing the Carnival would have to be a decision taken by the government.
Health Minister Fuad Khan is due to hold a news conference later today (October 10), but has already indicated there is no need to postpone the Carnival celebrations that brings in millions of dollars in revenue.
But Dr Khan does not rule out the possibility that this could change if the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) declare otherwise.
The government has already established a national Ebola response unit and a four-bed isolation unit at the Caura Hospital have been set up here.
Dr Khan said a National Health Committee to work with authorities to ensure that precautions are taken when dealing with passengers when entering Trinidad and Tobago.