PORT OF SPAIN – A hectic schedule and high blood sugar levels are to blame for Prime Minister (PM) Kamla Persad-Bissessar being ordered on two days of bed rest, following a visit to the Cross Crossing Medical Centre (CCMC) in San Fernando yesterday afternoon.
The PM has however vowed to recover in time for the People’s Partnership administration’s fifth anniversary celebration that’s being held this Sunday at Constantine Park, Macoya.
According to media reports, Persad-Bissessar fell ill while en route to yesterday’s 2.30 pm Point Fortin Hospital sod-turning event and chose instead to visit the CCMC, where she underwent various tests before being discharged shortly before 6 pm.
In contrast to how quickly the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) on Tuesday evening issued a statement on emailgate entitled “Integrity Commission Clears PM and Parliament: Major Victory”, before the Commission itself issued a public statement, there was a virtual blackout from the OPM on the PM’s health.
No official statement was forthcoming yesterday evening, either from the OPM or anyone on the PM’s communications team.
Newsday made repeated attempts to speak with them but got voicemail for several team members.
The exception being Health Minister Dr Fuad Khan, who spoke to Newsday at 7.10 pm yesterday.
Asked to confirm if Persad-Bissessar had fallen ill earlier in the day, he replied, “Not that I know of…If the PM was sick I would definitely have heard about it.”
When asked if the PM attended Cabinet yesterday morning, Khan told Newsday, “The PM has her own room (and) I was in and out of Cabinet because I got a lot of phone calls about the Point Fortin Hospital. So she may have come in and I didn’t see her.”
However, it was at the sod-turning function that it was announced that Persad-Bissessar would no longer be attending. Reporters there sought an explanation from Government Chief Whip Dr Roodal Moonilal, who was present at the sod-turning event.
“You know she is a diabetic and she has been working very hard,” Moonilal said. “Last night (Wednesday) at 10 pm she was at a TV6 Town Meeting (in Siparia) and she spent all day in Parliament so her blood sugar level is a bit high and she has been directed to rest.”
While in Parliament, the Prime Minister made yet another claim of victory after the Integrity Commission declared its emailgate probe was closed as it had no grounds to continue. However, yesterday, questions arose about whether there was consensus on this as the Commission’s deputy chairman retired Justice Sebastian Ventour resigned, saying the statement was “misleading” and, to him, the investigation was not over.
There was no statement from OPM on this revelation yesterday.
As for Wednesday’s schedule, the Persad-Bissessar made a surprise appearance at the TV6 event near to the end of the television broadcast; in its 7 pm news yesterday the station said the PM never responded to its invitation to attend the event in her constituency, where she was once again asked to name the date of the 2015 General Election.
The PM made it clear there will be no election date announcement prior to the Parliament being dissolved on June 17.
“We will not postpone or put off the elections at all. I will stick within the law, I will keep to the parliamentary term, which you elected me in this country to have a mandate for five years. That mandate will expire on June 17. I intend to serve my full parliamentary term, thereafter the Constitution indicates we have three months within which for an election to be held and yes, once the Parliament is dissolved, I will name the election date,” Persad-Bissessar declared on Wednesday evening in Siparia.
Yesterday in Point Fortin, Moonilal said the PM has had a gruelling schedule over the last few weeks and that “because of her work routine and the long hours day and night, she has been advised to rest.” He did express confidence though that Persad-Bissessar would “bounce back” in time to attend Government’s bog celebration in Macoya.
“I expect her to be in the pink of form for Sunday of course,” Moonilal told reporters. Persad-Bissessar’s ill health also prevented her from attending the distribution of deeds in the Land for the Landless Programme, held at Centre Pointe Mall, Chaguanas at 4.30 pm yesterday as well as the earlier Cabinet meeting in San Fernando.
State-owned Caribbean New Media Group (CNMG) and WIN Caribbean were among the media houses who used their official pages on social media site, Facebook, to inform the public about the PM’s ill health.
WIN Caribbean said, “Prime Minister Kamla Persad Bissessar has been admitted to hospital for exhaustion/fatigue as a result of low sugar levels.”
CNMG’s post included in part that the PM “has been ordered to rest for the next day or two after falling ill earlier today (yesterday)…Doctors have since told her to rest and recuperate.”
Commenting last night on reports that Persad-Bissessar had fallen ill, Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley said, “I heard that. I hope it’s nothing serious.”