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Health Ministry confirms 52 infections in seven days of August—more than in entire first wave

On 1 August, Trinidad and Tobago had 173 confirmed cases of Covid-19 since the onset of the pandemic in early March. Six days later, the counter stands on 225.

It means that, according to data from the Ministry of Health, the twin island republic has had 52 positive cases of the novel coronavirus in one week. To put that figure into context, the country had 50 infections in the entire first wave of the virus—which lasted 31 days and ended on 26 April.

Photo: A family wears masks on a visit to the Penal market for fresh fruits and vegetables on 23 April 2020.
(Copyright Ghansham Mohammed/GhanShyam Photography/Wired868)

At present, Trinidad and Tobago’s second wave has yielded 73 locally transmitted infections in 19 days. From the 53 positives in the past week, 37 were described as ‘pending epidemiological investigation’, which suggested that, at the time, the Ministry of Health’s Epidemiological Division could not find any link to a previous case or overseas travel.

By tonight, there will be 75 hospitalised patients within the parallel health care system—split between the Couva and Caura hospitals. While, in the past 24 hours alone, the Ministry of Health submitted a whopping 711 samples to the Caribbean Public Health Agency (Carpha) for testing.

At a press conference on Wednesday, Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley and Dr Avery Hinds, technical director of the Epidemiological Division, said the recent spike was not as bad as the numbers suggested, since the Ministry of Health was making good progress in its contact tracing.

“Because we have been able to track who has been infecting whom, we say we are in some element of control,” said Rowley, on Wednesday. “[…] The virus is not raging out of control… We are in a relatively good place in terms of managing the risk.”

Hinds agreed.

Photo: A patient is swabbed for Covid-19.

“We will continue to trace and to chase and to test where required,” said Hinds. “So far, the work we have done has given us a pattern and some confidence that we are finding the people.”

At this rate, the Epidemiological Division has its work cut out.

Minister of Health Terrence Deyalsingh has urged persons to be responsible, as they go about life in the ‘new normal’ of a post-Covid-19 world.

“We don’t want to overwhelm the system,” said Deyalsingh, as he explained that hospital beds are filling fast. “Our doctors and nurses at Caura are already under stress.”

Rowley, Deyalsingh and the relevant medical experts at the Ministry of Health are expected to address the nation again tomorrow, just two days before the country goes to the polls for the 2020 General Elections.

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 7 August)

  • 73 cases in 19 days.

Total number of Covid-19 infections (12 March to 7 August)

  • 225 cases in 5 months.
Photo: A school is sanitised as a preventative measure for 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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