In Trinidad: Health Minister tells public to stay at home


…COVID-19 cases now at 60 in T&T

(GUARDIAN)-Trinidad and Tobago’s COVID-19 cases are rolling faster.

The number of cases increased by six in the space of one day—going from 51 on Monday to 53 by midday yesterday and 57 by 4 pm on Tuesday. {The number rose to 60 on Wednesday}

The latest numbers announced by the Health Ministry yesterday included T&T’s first case of a person who was a primary contact of—and was in close proximity to —a relative who recently travelled abroad. The relative was an imported COVID case.

The cases also include two more people who’d been on the same Caribbean cruise from which 68 other nationals recently returned. The current two returned separately from the 68.

And an imported case who arrived in Tobago from the United Kingdom was transferred to Trinidad on Tuesday.

With Tuesday’s news, Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh said the only movement in T&T now “… has to be to stay at home. Especially those 20,000 people (who recently returned from overseas), if you stay home, we can prevent community spread.”

National Security Minister Stuart Young, who also appealed to people to heed the Government’s recommendations, said a state of emergency wasn’t on the table at this time.

T&T initially had nine imported cases. This jumped last weekend with 41 cases from the 68-member group who’d gone on a Caribbean cruise where other passengers came down with the virus on the ship. Government’s noted cruises, international airports and resorts were key points for possible infection.

On Tuesday, the Health Ministry’s 4 pm bulletin stated that the number of samples sent to the Caribbean Public Health Agency for testing was 353 and of these 57 were positive. The sample number had been 332 at midday yesterday.

Apart from the earlier 53 cases, the ministry stated four additional people tested positive. One had a history of recent travel. Another was known to have had contact with a person with a history of recent travel. Cases three and four were the two additional nationals who were part of the Caribbean cruise from which the 68 others returned last Wednesday. Forty-one of the 68 are now hospitalised with the virus.

Government ministers and Chief Medical Officer Dr Roshan Parasram, who spoke at a midday media briefing Tuesday—prior to the 4 pm bulletin—explained that the case which had contact with a person who had recent travel history didn’t constitute “community spread.” They said this was so since the person who got the virus was a primary contact of the person in their household who’d travelled and was an imported COVID case.

The Health Ministry had stated that the person with a history of recent travel was isolated immediately upon disembarking a British Airways aircraft at the ANR Robinson International Airport. They were being treated in isolation in Scarborough.

Deyalsingh said after landing, the person was immediately quarantined at the Scarborough Hospital where they displayed COVID symptoms. Tests were done and the case was confirmed.

Deyalsingh said according to protocols for Tobago revealed by the CMO at a recent Parliamentary meeting, the patient was transferred by the T&T Coast Guard—in isolation mode—to Trinidad. They were later transferred to either the Caura or Couva Hospital depending on symptoms, whether mild, moderate or severe.

The CMO recently said Tobago didn’t want COVID cases kept there for fear of contaminating the Scarborough Hospital and it was agreed any case would have been sent to Trinidad via boat.

Deyalsingh said, “This situation isn’t a joke, this is the greatest medical challenge of this generation and probably the last few, and the public can help by doing a simple thing—stay home.

“You have UK authorities telling their residents to stay home and the NY mayor also speaking about the issue.”

Tuesday’s six additional cases showed faster pace, including of detection. Prior to that, cases had emerged at about two daily.

Ministry epidemiology head Dr Avery Hinds stressed transmission can be “easily amplified if people don’t stay home and limit gatherings.