T&T has 12 recovered Covid-19 patients; 19 released from Balandra despite three more positives

Trinidad and Tobago now has 12 persons who have successfully grappled with and recovered from the novel coronavirus Covid-19. Four of the recovered patients came from the Couva Hospital and Multi-Training Facility while the other eight were at Caura Hospital.

The Ministry of Health has asked the released patients to self-quarantine for another seven days at their homes, out of an abundance of caution.

Photo: Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh (left) and National Security Minister Stuart Young discuss the novel coronavirus.

There was mixed news for the persons quarantined in Balandra, as a government release confirmed three more travellers from the ill-fated Costa Favolosa cruise ship tested positive.

Based on guidelines set out by chief medical officer Dr Roshan Parasram, the travellers who tested negative should have started a fresh 14-day cycle in Balandra while the positive members head to either Couva or Caura. Instead, the Health Ministry agreed to allow the remaining 19 persons to quarantine at their own homes.

Most were believed to have gotten home in time for the 7pm newscast. It hopefully ends a hellish month for the adventure seekers.

On 7 March, 73 locals flew to Martinique to join the Costa Favolosa cruise and, when the novel coronavirus hit, 68 of them returned in one group on 18 March. They were transferred straight from the Piarco International Airport to a Seventh-Day Adventist facility in Balandra, and 40 members tested positive straight away.

Another six tested positive two weeks later. And, today, three more members were also confirmed to be infected with Covid-19.

It suggests that several of those travellers contracted Covid-19 in Balandra rather than on the cruise. More relevantly, 19 persons—ranging in age from 30s to 70s—who returned three successive negative tests were set for another fortnight in quarantine.

Photo: The Costa Favolosa cruise ship.

However, after a month without seeing their families and three weeks without tasting meat, due to the religious nature of the Balandra dwelling place, the Health Ministry had a change of heart. At least two of the Covid-19 related fatalities so far came from the Balandra group.

Dr Avery Hinds, technical director of the Health Ministry’s Epidemiology Division, revealed today there is a notably higher rate of infection among women than men so far in Trinidad and Tobago, which is virtually the reverse of the global trend.

However, as Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh has stressed, the country’s sample size remains too small to draw conclusions from data. The statistics should be more meaningful when the Trinidad and Tobago has 100 confirmed cases outside of the 52 from the cruise, who are considered to be an anomaly.

In today’s press conference, Deyalsingh said the twin island republic has tested 1,007 persons in the last month from a total of 1,090 samples submitted to the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA).

This disclosure came after repeated media requests and offers a gauge to the level of testing done in Trinidad and Tobago. By this evening, there were 1,102 samples tested as the Balandra tests were added to the list. It means just 105 tests were conducted on persons who were already tested.

Photo: Data from the Ministry of Health on Covid-19 patients in Trinidad and Tobago. The yellow bar represents infected women.

Deyalsingh also confirmed that 30 ambulatory patients will be moved to a ‘step-down’ facility in Brooklyn, Sangre Grande, where they will continue treatment. He urged villagers to trust that the government has put things in place to ensure their safety.

Deyalsingh said too that the government ‘has absolutely no control of prices’ on pharmaceutical drugs, food or anything else and ruled out any attempt to stop price gouging through the public health regulations.

However, he claimed talks went well with Andrew Rahaman, president of the Pharmacy Association, and that the latter vowed to encourage pharmacies not to unnecessarily hike up prices, and to retain Hydroxychloroquine medication for their regular customers.

Hydroxychloroquine is vital medication for persons afflicted by lupus, malaria and rheumatoid arthritis but has been touted by some as an antidote for Covid-19.

Hinds stressed, as did Parasram before him, that there is no scientific evidence that Hydroxychloroquine can stand up to the new coronavirus but, instead, it can be fatal to persons who use it incorrectly.

Persons who purchased the drug for the wrong purpose are asked to return it for the benefit of citizens with lupus, malaria and rheumatoid arthritis.

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About Lasana Liburd

Lasana Liburd is the managing director and chief editor at Wired868.com 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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