Just as many people now confirmed with Covid-19 in Trinidad and Tobago showed no signs of having the virus as those with symptoms. This according to the technical director of the Ministry of Health’s epidemiology division, Dr Avery Hinds.
He said: “There is a significant proportion, maybe around half, maybe sometimes a little more, of the individuals whom we have identified that showed up as asymptomatic.
“Now what you’ll find, though, is because we are actively pursuing known contacts, the ability to identify asymptomatic people is actually greatly influenced by the fact that we know where to look.”
Dr Hinds explained that the ministry detected these asymptomatic people through contact tracing.
“If you, as an index case, identify that you’ve been in contact with a number of people in your home, a number of people in the workplace, a number of people at a gathering, we then do the contact tracing and follow up to swab and investigate whether these individuals have become positive subsequent to their contact with you, even if they don’t have symptoms. So, we do pick up a fair few asymptomatics in that way,” he said.
Hinds did not say whether there had been a change in the number of asymptomatic cases detected over the past weeks.
Previously, the ministry had said it did not typically test contacts of Covid-positive patients who did not show symptoms of the disease, except in special circumstances. Chief medical officer (CMO) Dr Roshan Parasram gave children with comorbidities as one example.
Earlier this month, at the health ministry’s media briefing on 10 March, he said that at certain times, the ministry had extended testing to primary, secondary and tertiary contacts at the discretion of the county medical officers of health (CMOH).
He also said: “Especially with the low numbers, we can widen it a little bit because we want to catch all the possible cases so we can get that number staying as low as we can for as long as we possibly can.”
The ministry has not said whether it has in fact widened testing to include more asymptomatic contacts of positive cases, and what impact, if any, that has had on current new infection numbers.
Today, the health ministry reported it had detected 38 new cases of the virus, bringing the total infected since March 2020 to 7903. There are now 187 active cases in the country.
In hospital, there are 12 patients with Covid-19. There are 242 people in state quarantine facilities and 137 in at-home self-isolation.
The death toll is at 141 since yesterday’s reported death of an elderly male.