MoH: T&T’s infection rate is declining, athletes’ special Covid risk and tennis exemption

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Dr Avery Hinds, technical director of the Ministry of Health Epidemiological Division, said Trinidad and and Tobago’s infection rate appears to be on a downward trend, following a surge of Covid-19 cases in the second wave of the virus.

Due to a backlog of cases, the public receives data on new positives in batches over a four to six day period. However, Dr Hinds used a chart showing daily infections to draw his conclusion, at this morning’s virtual press conference.

Image: A graph of Covid-19 infections in Trinidad and Tobago.

There was a spike towards the end of last month, which Dr Hinds suggested could be linked to a ‘las lap’ at the beaches and bars—after Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley announced bans on both, effective Monday 17 August. Since then, though, Dr Hinds said ‘the trend appears to be going down’ and ‘there is a tendency to see fewer new cases’.

Another consequence of the announced decrease in cases is that the backlog of swabs to be tested should be cleared ‘early next week’, according to Minister of Health Terrence Deyalsingh. Thereafter, the public should receive updates within 24 to 48 hours of Covid-19 tests.

At present, Trinidad and Tobago has 3,739 positive cases since the onset of the novel coronavirus from 25,711 unique patient tests. There are 1,984 active cases with 60 deaths.

There are 86 hospitalised cases with another 131 persons in step-down facilities and 1,679 persons in ‘home isolation’. The County Medical Officer Health (CMOH) offices will determine how many of the 88 positive cases declared this morning will remain at home, or which facility respective patients would be assigned to.

At present, there are 50 patients at the Couva Hospital, 25 at the Caura Hospital and 11 at the Arima General Hospital. At Couva, there are four persons in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) and seven at the High Dependency Unit (HDU).

Image: The novel coronavirus.

Dr Anthony Parkinson, technical director of Hospital Services, confirmed today that the current average age of mortalities is between 60-65, while there are five males to every one female—a statistic they are so far unable to explain.

Dr Parkinson described the country’s ICU numbers as ‘very manageable at this time’, although he made a point of figuratively knocking on wood after saying so.

The best way to keep control over those numbers? Wear masks, he stressed. Even asthmatic persons who may have difficulty breathing should prefer the discomfort of a mask to a tussle with the virus.

Dr Parkinson noted that much of the long term effects of the virus remains unknown, including its impact on the health of recovered persons. There can be, for instance, Covid-19-induced acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), which can cause lung scarring.

For athletes, lung scarring can negatively impact on their future careers as it could lead to cardiac arrest and sudden death. Dr Parkinson urged athletes who have recovered from the virus to consult their doctors and possibly have an ECG or echocardiogram done before they attempt to resume intense activity.

Photo: The world is grappling with the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Do not play Russian roulette with this disease,” said Dr Parkinson.

Most of the deceased patients so far have been elderly and afflicted with either hypertension or diabetes or both. There have been exceptions, as Dr Parkinson pointed to a 34-year-old male patient with no known co-morbidities who died.

However, there are also success stories. Dr Parkinson identified a 70-year-old who had a bypass surgery earlier this year and also suffers from hypertension and diabetes. He was taken to ICU and intubated twice. Yet, he is back on the ward now and improving daily.

“When you intubate for a second time, your mortality chances go up […] but he is on the ward now,” said Dr Parkinson. “[…] It is not a death sentence. People are coming out alive.”

Deyalsingh was asked to clarify a release from the Ministry of Health on Thursday, which: ‘granted an exemption to clubs which operate to support sporting activities, save and except, that such sporting activities are group contact sports and/or team sports’.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago national youth tennis player Zackary Bing.
(via TATT)

What does that mean, and which sport clubs are the ministry referring to?

Deyalsingh gave only one example. He said he spoke to the president of the Tennis Association of Trinidad and Tobago (TATT) and agreed to allow ‘lawn tennis’ clubs to continue.

The TATT president is Hayden Mitchell, who is also director of the Sports Company of Trinidad and Tobago (SporTT).

Tennis, as a non-contact sport, was not among the restricted sports.

Trinidad and Tobago vs Covid-19 (in numbers)

(Editor’s Note: the infections are recorded on the day they are announced by the Ministry of Health)

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

  • 50 cases in 31 days with 8 deaths.

Local infections of Covid-19 in second wave (20 July to 17 August)

  • 436 cases in 29 days with 4 deaths.

Local infections of Covid-19 since gov’t roll-backs (18 August to 13 September)

  • 2,350 cases in 26 days with 41 deaths.

Local infections of Covid-19 since renewed roll-backs (14 September to 19 September)

  • 805 cases in 6 days with 7 deaths.
Photo: A San Fernando barber wears his mask during the Covid-19 lockdown.
(Copyright Ghansham Mohammed/GhanShyam Photography/Wired868)

The Ministry of Health reminds members of the public to adhere to the ‘new normal’ and:

  • 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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About Lasana Liburd

Lasana Liburd
Lasana Liburd is the managing director and chief editor at and a journalist with over 20 years experience at several Trinidad and Tobago and international publications including Play the Game, World Soccer, UK Guardian and the Trinidad Express.

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