Ministry of Health Epidemiology Technical Director Dr Avery Hinds.

Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh says this country’s daily COVID-19 statistics are on the decline.

Urging citizens to continue adhering to public health measures which he claimed are working, Deyalsingh said, “I am reasonably happy this morning (yesterday) that we have some numbers which indicate that we are on the start of a right trend downwards.”

Although Deyalsingh said a downward trend in the number of cases had been observed, the local death rate continued to increase as three additional lives were lost to the virus.

In its morning update, the ministry reported that an elderly man and an elderly woman–both of whom were said to have pre-existing conditions–had died. In its evening update, the ministry confirmed there was another death, an elderly male with pre-existing conditions, bringing the number of deaths to 79.

Addressing people during the weekend media briefing, he said, “There seems to be at this time, about a 35 per cent decrease in the numbers which is good.”

Commending all citizens for the accomplishment, Deyalsingh said, “We could not have achieved this downturn in numbers which we hope will develop into a permanent trend without members of the public in both islands…wearing their masks, social distancing, washing their hands, staying home if you are ill.”

He referred to the recent statistics as reasonably encouraging.

Claiming the global pandemic showed no signs of slowing down as positive cases continued to increase at a daily average of 300,000 per day, he said this figure had remained constant between August 19 and September 30.

And with more than 34 million cases recorded worldwide, so too, the global death toll has continued to increase, having crossed one million last week, with an average daily death rate of around 5,000 per day.

Indicating T&T had started seeing some positive signs, Deyalsingh again appealed to citizens to get the flu shot to avoid the “twin-demic” –which was a newly coined word being used around the world to describe deaths due to COVID-19 and seasonal influenza.

He said 22,000 doses had been released into the health system to be given to the public at no cost.

However, he reported that up to Saturday only 3,934 vaccines had been distributed.

Disappointed with this number as he said the target of 10,000 vaccines to be administered per week is where they are striving to be, Deyalsingh said they especially wanted health care workers; elderly people with co-mordities, and pregnant women to get vaccinated.

Assuring the country that the ministry had an adequate number of test kits available, he said there were 22,900 currently in stock and rolling orders had been placed to be delivered every month.

Deyalsingh did not comment on whether there would be a scaling back of restrictions, but said the Prime Minister is expected to pronounce on that next week and he did not want to preempt what might be announced.

And as the country gets ready for the national budget, the minister has assured that monies will continue to be channelled into the COVID-19 response as he said preliminary figures indicate that of the $157 million that had been allocated to address the pandemic in Trinidad, just about $79 million had been spent so far.

Hinds denies discrepancy in data

Epidemiologist Dr Avery Hinds said the majority of COVID-19 positive cases continued to be recorded in the 25 to 49 year age group.

Meanwhile, Hinds has denied there are discrepancies in the COVID-19 data provided by the ministry.

Following an article in the Guardian on Friday, a local data scientist claimed there were discrepancies between the data being recorded and what was being presented.

Ubilytics co-founder and data scientist Derick Cornwall claimed that some 1,200 cases were left out of an epi-curve that had been documented and presented to the public.

Questioned about this, Hinds said there were no missing cases.

He explained that while the epi-curve comes from a different data source, it had the same overall shape and pattern as the total number of tests reported daily.

He explained, “The total number of tests had a particular challenge in the timeframe when there was a backlog in the testing that gave the shape of the graph a misleading sort of contour and gave the idea that a particular point in time may have been the peak whereas that point in time when you look at the epidemiologic curve was actually earlier on in the process.”

He said the epi-curve was not used to quantify the cases but rather, to give a better understanding of when the cases would have occurred.

Hinds added, “There are no missing cases. The cases have been reported. The epi-curve then shows you the pattern, it gives you a better idea of when that would have happened using a corroborating data source.”