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Locked out: An ethical analysis of Trinidad and Tobago's COVID-19 border closure - 09/02/22

Doi : 10.1016/j.jemep.2021.100749 
L. Budrie a, c, , A. Narinesingh b
a Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Pharmacology, St. George's University School of Medicine, True Blue, St. George, Grenada 
b Department of Physiology, Neuroscience and Behavioural Sciences, St. George's University School of Medicine, St. George, Grenada 
c Faculty of Bioethics, Anáhuac University, México 

Corresponding author.

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Summary

Background

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced nearly every nation around the world to implement border restrictions, some of which have prevented citizens from entering their own country. Restricting access to one's own country was a burdensome intervention, but may have been necessary given the global emergency. Thus, the decision restrict citizens’ entry as a public health intervention warrants ethical analysis to determine its appropriateness. The focus of this paper is on the ethics of the 15-month border closure implemented in Trinidad and Tobago during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Methodology

Ethical analysis of the COVID-19 border closure in Trinidad and Tobago was done using a six-part ethical framework for public health.

Discussion

The ethical analysis highlights various areas of concern which question the justification for the border closure. The effectiveness, necessity and proportionality of the intervention were justified in the short-term, however, as benefits diminished over time, this did not result in appropriate policy changes. Continuous evaluation of the intervention throughout its use could have improved the balance of benefits and burdens thereby providing stronger ethical validation.

Conclusion

The COVID-19 border closure in Trinidad and Tobago brought substantial burdens upon its citizens without comparable benefits. Data from previous pandemics and the best available data during the current pandemic showed that effectiveness was limited to the initial months, after which it would have been unnecessary to maintain. Thus, the government's decision to prolong the border closure for 15 months, well past its time of effectiveness, was not ethically justified from our analysis.

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Keywords : Border closure, COVID-19, Ethics, Human rights, Public health


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Vol 20

Article 100749- février 2022 Retour au numéro
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