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A member of the public glances across to the COVID-19 tent at the Port-of-Spain General Hospital, yesterday.

The Ministry of Health confirmed an additional 305 COVID-19 cases and nine deaths yesterday.

This means there have been a staggering 2,634 cases and 98 deaths within the first nine days of November.

It comes as health officials and experts continue to sound the alarm that COVID-19 cases are on the rise with the Delta variant now established among the local population.

Yesterday’s cases brought the seven-day rolling average up to 363. This means an average of 363 cases were recorded daily since last Tuesday. Since the month began an average of 292 cases were recorded per day. The average increased from Monday’s of 320.

The last time the seven-day rolling average was near its current level was on June 10 with 362 cases.

The last time the seven-day rolling average was near its current rate during a period of increasing cases was on May 14 with 380- the day before the Prime Minister called the State of Emergency.

Exactly one month ago, on October 9, the seven-day rolling average was 200 cases.

On Monday, the Ministry of Health’s Epidemiology Division technical director Dr Avery Hinds warned that not only were cases increasing, but so too was the number of samples returning positive. He said it could reach up to 40 per cent by the end of the week. The developments, he labelled as a cause for concern.

“We are already at, maybe one-third of the total for October, for really just the first week in November. So we are seeing that we are collecting or accruing cases at a faster rate, and we also see that the percentage positivity is showing an upward trend which is cause for concern. We are looking at increasing numbers of cases in the more recent weeks. The background positivity is also increasing, indicating that we do have to be careful and a need for adhering to the public health guidelines and optimising the number of people vaccinated continues to be of paramount importance,” Hinds said.

Double-digit deaths

Yesterday’s fatalities bring the country’s seven-day rolling average for deaths up to 12 per day. An average of 11 people lost their lives per day to COVID-19 since November began. The seven-day rolling average of deaths was 10 when the State of Emergency was called. However, there is a lag between cases being discovered and when deaths are recorded. This means an increase in fatalities from this current upswing in cases will be noted at a later date.

The statistics yesterday revealed there were 5,758 people actively fighting the disease. It’s the largest number since August 20 which had 5,728 infections. On the day the State of Emergency was called, active cases were fewer at 5,558.

Increasing active infections raises the probability that patients will need to be hospitalised. While there is presently room in the Parallel Healthcare System for COVID-19 patients the majority of spaces are ward level. Since mid-October, the Ministry of Health has been warning of limited spaces in the Intensive Care Units across the system.

However, the country’s vaccination rates remain low.

It’s been seen locally where data from the ministry currently shows that 93.1 per cent of patients in the parallel healthcare system aren’t fully vaccinated. This is based on data collected between July 22 and October 20.

Despite this, only some 44.9 per cent of the population (628,467 people) has accessed at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine with 44.2 per cent (618,792) completing their vaccination regime.