Dr Hinds: ‘Illegal immigrants bringing coronavirus the least of our worries’

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Speaking at the Ministry of Health’s media conference today, epidemiologist Dr Avery Hinds said the country was still experiencing community spread, and managing our respiratory health and hygiene should be the focus of concern.

Responding to a question about whether he was concerned that the virus could not be eradicated if it kept coming into the country through illegal immigration, Hinds said:

“… My concern is actually that we keep focusing on something that is probably the least of our worries at this point in time, and that we don’t, in doing so, unduly and unnecessarily a) stigmatise a group of people and b) distract from the more important source of illness. Every time someone asks, ‘where is the illness coming from?’ It’s coming from the population. People still have it…”

Photo: Venezuelans have streamed into Trinidad by boat.

Also speaking at the conference, Chief Medical Officer (CMO) Dr Roshan Parasram said it was a concern that if a disease continued to be reintroduced, it would be difficult to eradicate it. What is being done, he said, is trying to get the disease to the lowest level possible within the community.

He also said that increases in cases for diseases, such as malaria, measles and mumps, were also concerns related to migration and not just Covid-19.

Dr Parasram said the health ministry will assess on Friday—14 days after restrictions were relaxed—whether there has been a spike in the number of positive coronavirus cases. He also clarified that the zero positive cases reported on Monday did not mean there were no cases of Covid-19 in the country.

The CMO explained that because testing facilities were mostly closed over the weekend, the number of reported cases on Mondays are usually lower than average. That was why, he said, health officials considered weekly averages to determine the status of the virus in the country.

There were no reported deaths over the last 24 hours, but there were 10 new positive cases of the virus. The CMO said that there were now about two deaths for every 100 cases reported.

To date, there have been 5764 total cases of the virus reported since March and the death toll stands at 110.

Photo: A man wears a protective face mask as a preventive measure against the new coronavirus in Caracas, Venezuela on 24 March 2020.
(Copyright AP Photo/Ariana Cubillos)

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, doorknobs and cell phones;
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water or use an alcohol-based sanitiser;
  • Cough into a tissue or 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 WhatsApp to 482-GARY.

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