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Members of the public wait outside El Socorro Health Center, on Thursday.

Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh said yesterday the decision to begin self-quarantining at home was not because the health system was overwhelmed.

However, he warned that if this was not done, the country could have reached a place whereby elderly people needing beds at hospitals would not have been able to get them.

He spoke during an interview on CNC3’s The Morning Brew yesterday morning.

“The spectrum of care goes down step-down, quarantine, hospitals.

“So we have over 1,000, so we were never overwhelmed in terms of numbers.

“What we want to prevent is a week from now being overwhelmed and the ones who need to be hospitalised can’t be hospitalised because we have a mild, relatively healthy young adult taking up a bed.

“So this is a proactive step to make sure that days from now when the elderly need a bed, need a ventilator, they can get one,” he said.

He said county health officers will be charged with ensuring that patients at home are monitored and that other family members are also tested.

The Minister said guidelines will also be sent out on how to quarantine at home, adding that patients will have to wear masks in their homes once there are other members of the family there. Deyalsingh added that there may be a positive flip-side to quarantining at home, stating that many people who were reluctant to know their statuses for fear of being sent to State quarantine facilities, would be more willing to do so now.

Patients at home will be contacted twice daily by health officials and once a patient begins to deteriorate, he or she will be transferred to a hospital.

Deyalsingh said the Ministry has boosted its complement of doctors and nurses to make those calls.

He warned as well that this weekend will see a spike in cases brought about by the large number of people who flocked to beaches and bars two weeks ago, one day before new restrictions were implemented.

“That behaviour in Maracas and beaches will give us a spike, unfortunately.

“The last lap drinking will give us a spike, unfortunately.

“You are going to get a spike this weekend into early next week. Expect it.”

He added: “Where we are now is due to the behaviours of the public two weeks ago. Where we will be two weeks from now depends on the behaviour of the public.

“While we talk about what the Ministry doing, we tend to gloss over what the public is doing.”

Deyalsingh said that the backlog of cases being tested was around 600 Wednesday, a significant reduction, he said, from earlier this week.

He said they expect to get back to a 24 to 48-hour cycle of testing soon. He is urging the members of the public to adhere to the regulations.

“Don’t go down the islands and park five boats next to each other and have a raft-up and jump from boat to boat drinking.

“Don’t go and have a CPL party to watch cricket with 10 and 15 and 20 people.

“The behaviour across the spectrum has to change.”

The House of Representatives will today debate legislation on wearing masks and penalties for breach of quarantine.

The legislation will go to the Senate tomorrow and the Minister said that he hopes that by Monday the new law will be in place.

He said after the Parliament passes the legislation, the fines will be outlined in the Public Health Ordinances.