Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley has declared a state of emergency, starting from midnight, with citizens expected to stay indoors between 9pm and 5am unless they are specially exempted essential service providers.
There was no immediate timeframe offered for the duration of the measure, which the prime minister described as an ‘additional attempt to reduce the opportunity of spread’ and to limit the current ‘high levels of death’ to ‘a shorter period’.
“We tried very hard as a population to stay away from this,” said Dr Rowley, “but clearly we didn’t succeed… We are going to put life first.
“[…] We have a population that is now scared. I’m sorry but it has come to coffins and the faces of dead people for us to realise that we are now in—and always have been in—a very difficult place.”
A state of emergency can remain in place for 90 days at a time. The prime minister did not give more specifics on the matter.
“The length of it will be determined by the response that we get,” said Dr Rowley. “The more positive the response, the shorter the period.”
Dr Rowley’s declaration came after the now typically sombre clinical updates from principal medical officer Dr Maryam Abdool-Richards and chief epidemiologist Dr Avery Hinds.
At present, Trinidad and Tobago has an average of 383 new cases per day. Hospital occupancy is at 64% over both islands and 73% in Trinidad. The Ministry of Health added new beds in the past week but they only delayed the inevitable.
“As fast as we increase the beds, they were filled,” said Dr Abdool-Richards. “[…] Don’t be comforted [by fact that there are 27% of beds free]. A bed is not just a bed… The resources that are required to give you the best level of care may not and are not available.”
At present, she said, 100% of the intensive care units in the parallel health facility are in use while 95% of the high dependency units and 66% of the wards are filled.
“At this rate, we are basically out of hospital beds,” said Abdool-Richards. “It means if you require care, you will not be receiving the best care.”
Dr Rowley noted two calypsos by Brother Mudada and Devon Seale, which speak to our current crisis. The latter, he said, is entitled: Don’t Jackass The Thing.
The country’s top health care professionals did not mince words themselves.
“If death has not arrived by your doorstep,” said Dr Abdool-Richards, “it is probably at your workplace or in your neighbourhood.”
The Ministry of Health recorded an additional 520 confirmed cases of Covid-19 today from 1,162 tests conducted between 11 May and 15 May. There were also nine more deaths, which brings the total count of fatalities to 276 since the onset of the pandemic.
At present, there are 5,558 active cases of the novel coronavirus. Trinidad and Tobago has had 15,899 positives since March 2020 from 152,265 tests.
Minister of Health Terrence Deyalsingh said the government expects another 210 beds inclusive of the two field hospitals donated by the United States. It should be enough for the country to ‘rally out’ once they get on top of the surge.
The government hopes to vaccinate 1,110 persons by mid-July.
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