Tracy Davidson-Celestine

Loyse Vincent

Health officials are calling for more attention to isolation in Tobago as the island recorded 42 positive COVID-19 cases in 24 hours yesterday.

This took the total number of active cases on the island to 132, the highest number since the onset of the pandemic. The island also recorded another death, a 75-year-old woman with comorbidities bringing the island’s total death count to seven.

Following the announcement, Secretary for Health Wellness and Family Development Tracy Davidson-Celestine said while the numbers are “worrying” health officials continue to depend on good public behaviour and judgement. She said outside of vaccination residents need to understand that the importance of staying at home.

She said, “All it takes is one person to deliver COVID to a household. While we understand the danger in crowds, we need to understand the greater danger of one-on-one spread.”

Describing “comingling of households as a super spreader” Davidson Celestine cautioned about the dangers of one asymptomatic person.

“We keep asking the public to stop mixing households. People still seem to think that they can visit each other, even if it’s just one person. The one asymptomatic among us is among the most dangerous right now.” she said.

Davidson-Celestine said the system has been holding steady thus far, able to accommodate COVID positive cases in official facilities and more beds have been added, however, if the numbers keep spiralling the island will hit capacity.

Before this, the highest number of positive COVID-19 cases was recorded in October last year, during an outbreak at the Scarborough Prison.

Meanwhile, PDP appointed Alternative Secretary of Health Dr Faith B. Yisrael said she believes the data has to be disaggregated in terms of the actual dates people were swabbed and compared to the date when the results came in.

She said, “If the wait time for results were a day or two then this is a process can be managed, but if the dates between swabbing and receiving the results is greater than a couple days then we have to ask ourselves whether our testing system has failed or whether it is keeping up with our needs in Tobago.”

Currently the island has two methods for COVID-19 testing. The first is a genomic sequence test used for emergency cases at the Scarborough Regional Hospital and the other is batch testing at the public labs in Trinidad.

While the island is in possession of a PCR testing machine,Davidson Celestine previously announced that there has been some challenge in acquiring test kits on the open market.

Yisrael also sought clarification on the number of beds available on the island for COVID-19 patients, especially in terms of the how patients are housed.

“I understand we have a policy of housing people who are asymptomatic with people who are mildly symptomatic in the healthcare system in Tobago,” she asaid

At last count there was a total of approximately 250 beds to accommodate COVID -19 patients on the island. In September last year health officials announced that 170 beds were allocated throughout the various stages of COVID-19 treatment facilities. Subsequently an additional 40 beds were announced on May 7, followed by an announcement of 40 beds again May 21.