SHARLENE RAMPERSAD
[email protected]

As medical experts continue to appeal to the public to adhere to the COVID-19 regulations, Chief Medical Officer Dr Roshan Parasram says the woman who broke her self-quarantine to travel to Tobago could have infected 222 people with the virus – according to contact tracing.

Speaking at the Ministry of Health’s (MOH) virtual press conference yesterday, Parasram said those 222 people were the woman’s primary, secondary and tertiary contacts. The woman was awaiting her COVID-19 test results when she broke her recommended self-quarantine and travelled to Tobago. 

“As you all know, there was a particular case that would have gone to a hotel in Tobago. Out of that one case in Tobago, we have identified 222 primary, secondary and tertiary contacts, there are 204 primary contacts from one single case,” Parasram said, noting those two cases alone had the potential to spread the virus to 426 people.

Parasram said the ministry has since created a quarantine form that must be signed by everyone who is tested for the virus to avoid a repeat of the woman’s case. He said he has instructed the County Medical Health Officers to ensure the forms are signed and patients are informed of the repercussions of breaking their quarantine.

“If you breach the quarantine order there are legal elements that step in, through the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service (TTPS), that can be enforced. The process has changed as we move along the continuum of cases. Now we are at the stage where once you are swabbed, you are given the quarantine order, a legal document to stay at home, rather than trying to say verbally, so there is something to enforce if people don’t comply,” he explained.

Asked about rumours circulating on social media that an elite yacht party held last week had caused dozens of COVID infections, Parasram said the ministry was not aware of any such incident.

But he took the opportunity to warn private labs against hiding the results of COVID-positive cases.

“There should not be people in the population that are testing positive for whatever reason and the Ministry of Health is not aware of it,” Parasram said.

“Basically, the regulations are made to cover that aspect of it, that persons were going privately and being tested and not giving us the results. The regulations are meant to capture and safeguard that from happening, so that every one that is positive, whether it is by private test or public test, the ministry is aware.”

Principal Medical Officer of Health for Epidemiology, Dr Naresh Nandram also showcased several graphs that are being used to map the spread of COVID across the country. He said according to data on positive patients, the age group of patients in the latest phase of the virus has dropped when compared to the age group of the first set of infected people in March and April.

“The majority of cases in females occur between the ages of 35 to 39 and in males, it’s younger than that – it’s the 25 to 29 age group where most of the cases occur and that’s very concerning,” Nandram said.

However, he said this data also showed a correlation with a non-adherence to the Public Health Guidelines among people of those age groups.

Appealing to the public to wear their masks, physical distance and sanitise, Nandram said the public has now become the frontline defence in the COVID-battle.

“These measures have worked in the past – once the public adheres to the public health measures, hopefully, we can control the virus and get back to the place we were before. This fight is no longer with our healthcare professionals, it has moved into everyone’s homes,” Nandram said.

T&T records 12th COVID death

One more person has succumbed to the COVID-19 virus and 36 more people have tested positive for the virus.

In its updates yesterday, the Ministry of Health said the latest patient to succumb to the virus is an adult male with pre-existing medical conditions.

He was the fourth person to die from the virus in as many days. A recent spike in COVID-positive cases saw the death toll jump from eight on April 6 to 12 up until last night.

Of the 36 new cases announced yesterday, 31 were from Trinidad and five were from Tobago. There are now 436 active cases of the virus while the total number of infections is 588.