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As T&T moves into its second week of the recently-implemented partial lockdown, another person has died from COVID-19.

The Ministry of Health said the latest victim was an adult male with a pre-existing health condition.

It was the second COVID-19 death for the weekend as on Saturday, an adult male also died from the virus. It brings the COVID-19 death toll to 14.

The ministry also reported that 33 additional people tested positive for the virus.

In a media release, the ministry said there were 166 COVID-19 positive patients in hospitals, and 275 patients were en route to hospitals for treatment. Sixty-four new patients were being processed for admission.

As of yesterday morning, the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA), the University of the West Indies and other locally approved laboratories for COVID-19 testing received 19,123 samples.

The number of unique patient tests completed was 16,847, while the number of repeated tests were 2,276.

In Tobago, the Division of Health, Wellness and Family Development reported that seven additional cases tested positive for COVID-19 on the island.

The sources of these cases are pending. Twenty five active COVID-19 cases were being treated in Tobago up until yesterday, bringing the total number of positive cases recorded on the island to 32.

There were 136 people discharged from quarantine facilities there.As health officials brace for more cases from election campaigning activities, various regional health authorities have begun implementing contingency measures.

A well-placed source at the South-West Regional Health Authority (SWRHA) said despite staff working long hours, there were no complaints of fatigue. The source said there are thousands of people on a self-quarantine list awaiting results from nasopharyngeal swabbing for COVID-19.

“We know they are doing a lot of work, but we would not say that anybody is falling. We have doctors, nurses and civilian staff dedicated to a surveillance unit.”

However, with the increasing caseload, the source said medical staff is worried that it overburdens the health system, resulting in the staff suffering from fatigue. The source said the return of COVID-19 cases in July also meant the curtailment of some services to manage the number of people in the SWRHA facilities.

There has been a cutback on elective surgeries, and doctors may use telemedicine to deal with some outpatient services.

Doctors noted that medical staff who tested positive for the virus contracted it during social interaction with others and not at health facilities as they have to follow strict guidelines and wear personal protective equipment.

CEO Dr Brian Armour said SWRHA facilities are adequately staffed to manage patient complement. Armour said all staff were aware before the call to duty and are brave, dedicated and selfless. However, the SWRHA is hiring more staff to address replacement or shortages of staff that are deployed to parallel care services.

“We are accounting for the contingency of staff who may tire in the future or become exposed in their community setting where they live or do private business,” Armour said.

He said there are somewhat fewer daily ward admissions to the regular service and measures to limit the congregation in clinics to assist in managing the workload of staff.

“There are no growing or widespread reports of burnout at this time. However, we cannot keep this indomitable spirit alone and we absolutely require the public’s cooperation in following public health regulations and not knowingly endanger the public, including or knowingly expose our healthcare workers by breaching quarantine and not following measures to protect one’s health.

“We have staff mental health support tips, sensitisation and training sessions for prevention of infection that is also used to address any related staff concerns.”

Armour said the SWRHA has an open-door policy to address concerns through its Customer Solutions Desk and 87-SWRHA.

He said staff can go directly to supervisors and there are meetings at all levels in the SWRHA as well as regular internal updates on several related COVID-19 matters.

He said management has kept dialogue, supplied information and let staff know that all categories of healthcare workers are all valuable.

“There is no worry at this point about the SWRHA becoming overwhelmed. We are confident once the public takes heed, we can maintain both our regular and parallel health care services in the foreseeable future and limit the spread from becoming very widespread.”