101 infections in eight days! Gov’t confirms 32 more positive Covid-19 cases

The Ministry of Health confirmed another 32 positive cases of Covid-19 this evening, which brought Trinidad and Tobago’s tally to 275 cases since the onset of the pandemic. At present, the country has 132 active cases of the novel coronavirus.

The results this evening were for persons swabbed over the last eight days rather than just over the last 24 hours.

Photo: A hospital braces for Covid-19 cases.

Chief Medical Officer Dr Roshan Parasram, at a virtual press conference this morning, said the Trinidad Public Health lab had taken to bunching positive results from the UWI lab together before forwarding to the Caribbean Public Health Agency (Carpha) for confirmation. This practice exacerbated a time lag for results.

“What has resulted in that sort of reporting […] is that from the beginning of the set up of the University of the West Indies (UWI) lab, we had agreed for quality assurance [and] quality control that any positives would be sent to the Trinidad Public Health lab and thereafter to the Caribbean Public Health Agency (Carpha) for confirmation,” said Parasram. “What was happening is once we got positives, they were batched by the Trinidad Public Health lab [before being sent to Carpha]… [So there was a] lag of seven days in terms of the reporting, which gives a sort of an artifactual epidemiological picture of what is actually happening.”

During the period of up to eight days when persons waited for their test results, they were expected to self-quarantine along with their primary contacts. However, there is no state supervision of this process.

From the 32 cases confirmed this evening, 18 were ‘contacts of recently positive Covid-19 patients’ while 14 are ‘pending epidemiological investigation’.

Photo: A San Fernando barber wears his mask during the Covid-19 lockdown.
(Copyright Ghansham Mohammed/GhanShyam Photography/Wired868)

The twin island republic has had 122 infections within its borders over the last 20 days; and 101 in the last eight days.

Parasram does not believe that the roll-back of civil liberties and another lockdown is the answer. Trinidad and Tobago citizens, he said, must learn how to live safely—despite the disease in its midst—until a vaccine is available in a year or two.

“The primary goal at this time remains to get persons to take personal responsibility for their behaviour,” said the CMO. “[…] We can’t be punitive every time we see a few cases come up from here, there and everywhere and close everything in society.

“[…] Without the behaviour change, even if we roll back, there will still be clusters and some level of spread in the country [as soon as restrictions are lifted again].”

Trinidad and Tobago will hold its General Elections on Monday 10 August. At present, the country is described as having ‘cluster spread’ which is the second highest category behind ‘community spread’.

Photo: Minister of Health and St Joseph candidate Terrence Deyalsingh leads a campaign walkabout through his constituency.
(via PNM)

“About a week ago, we moved from sporadic to cluster: meaning that we have conglomerations of local cases or imported cases in a specific geographic location and/or linked to each other,” said Parasram. “[…] Community means there is extremely widespread spread throughout the entire country, meaning that you can go to any locality in the country and possibly be at the same risk of developing Covid.

“That is not the case at this point.”

Trinidad and Tobago vs Covid-19 (in numbers)

Local infections of Covid-19 in first wave (27 March to 26 April)

  • 50 cases in 31 days.

Local infections of Covid-19 in second wave (20 July to 8 August)

  • 122 cases in 20 days.
Photo: Members of the public are asked to wash their hands properly to help prevent the spread of Covid-19.

The Ministry of Health reminds members of the public to:

  • Wear a mask over your nose and mouth when you go out in public;
  • Keep your distance from others (six feet);
  • Stay home if you are ill;
  • Clean then sanitise surfaces, such as tabletops, door knobs and cell phones;
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water or use an alcohol-based sanitiser;
  • Cough into a tissue or into the crook of your elbow;
  • Avoid touching your face.

Persons are urged to call Covid-19 hotline numbers: 877-WELL, 87-SWRHA or 877-3742 (Trinidad) and 800-HEAL (Tobago) if they feel unwell; or they can report a possible breach of Covid-19 regulations by calling 555, or sending messages—inclusive of photographs and videos—to the Police App or via Whats App to 482-GARY.

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