Trinidad and Tobago has recorded another infant death and broken its single-day virus case record for the second day in a row, as the Ministry of Health yesterday confirmed 1,259 new COVID-19 cases, surpassing the 1,063 cases confirmed on Thursday.

This latest surge in cases has pushed active cases above 18,000 for the first time for the pandemic.

With active cases standing at 18,034, one in every 77 people in Trinidad and Tobago is currently considered to have an active COVID-19 infection. Remarkably, as of yesterday (January 21), one in every 13 people in T&T has had a laboratory-confirmed positive COVID-19 test result.

Trinidad and Tobago’s COVID-19 death toll now stands at 3,278.

Yesterday, the country also recorded its 10th paediatric death, a male infant. He was among 22 deaths reported in the last 24 hours, which included five elderly males, seven elderly females, three middle-aged males, five middle-aged females and one young-adult female. The ministry also noted that two of the 22 deaths had no known medical conditions.

To date, the country has lost one teenage boy, four teenage girls, two male children, one female child, the infant male yesterday and a newborn female on December 6, 2021.

Speaking at the Ministry of Health media briefing on January 10, Senior Pediatric Emergency Medicine Specialist at the North Central Regional Health Authority (NCRHA), Dr Joanne Paul, said more children were expected to be hospitalised with the Omicron COVID-19 variant of concern across T&T in the next few weeks. She noted a three to fivefold increase of hospitalisations was predicted in children ages zero to five and 12 to 16.

Dr Paul urged parents then to ensure that their children aged 12 to 18 are vaccinated.

Yesterday, the World Health Organization (WHO) issued Emergency Use Listing for the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines for children aged five to 11. The WHO noted that in a phase three trial in children aged five to 11, there was a 90.7 per cent efficacy against symptomatic COVID-19. They also recommend two doses at ten microgram/0.2 millilitre each, one-third the dosage amount given for those aged 12 and above, at a four to an eight-week interval.

The WHO also said it would be preferable to use an eight-week interval between doses. It is associated with higher vaccine effectiveness and a potentially lower risk of myocarditis or pericarditis. When it comes to boosters, the need for and timing for booster doses for children aged five to 11 has not yet been determined.

Omicron cases double across T&T

As COVID-19 cases increase across the country, fears of community spread of the Omicron variant are materialising.

Between January 18 and January 20, the Ministry of Health confirmed 28 more Omicron cases, doubling the number that has been detected in the country.

The ministry yesterday said 18 of the latest cases had no history of recent travel and no known contact with recent travellers, two of the cases had recent travel history or contact with a recent traveller, while eight cases remain under epidemiological investigation.

To date, 16 of the detected Omicron cases had no known epidemiological link to a recent traveller or a recent COVID-19 case. In addition, 23 of the detected Omicron cases have had no contact with a COVID-19-positive case or a person with recent travel history. This results in 39 of the 56 detected and sequenced COVID-19 cases across T&T having no known contact, recent travel history, or pending epidemiological investigation.

These figures are being recorded at a time when Ministry of Health officials have not declared community spread of Omicron.

On January 10, both the Chief Medical Officer Dr Roshan Parasram and Technical Director, Epidemiology, Dr Avery Hinds, indicated that the country is in the embryonic stages of community spread of Omicron.

Parasram said then that the ministry estimated there could be an increase in COVID-19 cases within two weeks.

“We are waiting to see that increase, at least coming out of the samples.”

In Tobago, where two new Omicron cases were detected yesterday, taking the island’s total to five, Dr Tiffany Hoyte, acting County Medical Officer of Health, said two days earlier, “We have ongoing community spread.”