The National Racquet will serve as a step-down facility in the government’s fight against the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. This was revealed on Saturday as Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley, who toured the tennis facility along with Health Minister Terrance Deyalsingh and Chief Medical Officer Dr. Roshan Parasram.

The Prime Minister released a statement via his Facebook on Saturday stating, “A visit was made to the Trinidad and Tobago National Raquet Centre in Tacarigua which has been converted into a 50-bed, step-down facility.”

President of the Tennis Association of T&T (TATT), Hayden Mitchell, expanded on the Prime Minister’s statement, telling Guardian Media Sports, “They are using the facility as a back-up. In times of national crisis, all these sporting facilities can also double as centres.”

The government has converted the interior, where the cafeteria is, into a holding area for roughly 50 beds and the players lounge into an area for doctors. Mitchell also confirmed the shower and washroom facilities are also up to standard.

This has been a common sight around the world. Real Madrid’s Santiago Bernabéu has been turned into a storage and distribution centre for medical materials while Germany's biggest football stadium, Borussia Dortmund's Signal-Iduna-Park, was partially transformed into a medical centre to help treat patients.

Mitchell, who is also a Sportt Company director and who heads a sub-committee in charge of facilities confirmed no patients were yet at the Racquet Centre. “They just have it as a back-up as part of their plan,” he said.

While the TATT president said he conveyed with his executive before the decision was made, Mitchell gave the assurance the facility will be properly sanitized when the pandemic is over. He said, “I had a discussion with the chairman (Douglas Camacho) and the newly re-appointed Chief Executive Officer (CEO Jason Williams) and that was high on the itinerary. As soon as they are finished, they have already identified companies to come and do the full sanitization of the entire place so that would not be an issue and, of course, I will ensure that they do a proper job.”

The national facility closed with others two weeks ago as the outbreak got worse around the country. He could not confirm whether any other national sporting facilities will be used in the recovery effort, saying, “Not to my knowledge but I guess this will be part of their whole national plan in terms of the response.”