Ministry of Health Epidemiology Technical Director Dr Avery Hinds.

Rishard Khan

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Several unanswered questions are surrounding the country’s second phase of COVID-19 infections and the Ministry of Health is yet to conclusively state what catalysed this second phase and what caused the sustained community transmission of the virus for the past two months. But according to Minister of Health, Terrence Deyalsingh, the election is not to be blamed.

“One of the peaks which Dr Hinds mentioned was the peak in September which was way after the election and would seem to coincide with that last lap with the weekend. That was way after the election so let’s deal with facts,” Minister Deyalsingh said in response to a question during yesterday’s virtual press conference.

The “last lap” Deyalsingh referred to was on August 16; the day after it was announced beaches would once again be closed but also the day before the regulations would be implemented.

This led to beach lovers rushing their favourite spots to experience the sun, sand and sea before re-entering a period of restrictions from August 17. The 28-day period was supposed to end on September 12 but was extended until October 11.

Dr Hinds is expected to be at tomorrow’s press conference to present the statistical data and address the issue.

The second phase of infections began on July 20 with case 139 but no evidence has yet surfaced to definitively point the finger at what sparked it. On August 22, Chief Medical Officer Dr Roshan Parasram, however, presented with links to illegal immigration.

“There were cases throughout that would have induced spread meaning contact with persons that would have had recent entry into Trinidad and Tobago. So that has been a feature of phase two in certain instances, especially in the early days,” he said.

But while on the surface it appears to be the most probable source, the government has been very careful not to label it as the smoking gun, which was evident when Minister of National Security Stuart Young emphasised the distinction while Guardian Media was posing a question to him during the September 12 press conference.

“I don’t know where you’re getting that it was confirmed that the second wave came from illegal immigration, so I just want to debunk that straight away. What was suggested early o’clock is there seemed to have been some of those early cases that may have had a link…the vast majority, there was no such link found whatsoever,” he said.

44 more test positive

There are now 2,078 active cases of COVID-19 after 44 people tested positive for the virus within the last 24 hours, the Ministry of Health confirmed in its updates yesterday. It brings the total number of people to have contracted the virus locally since March 12 to 3,945.

The total number of people to have recovered from the virus locally have also increased to 1,802 after four people were discharged from public health facilities while 45 people in home isolation also recovered and were released from the care of the Ministry. This brings the total number of people to be released from hospital to 839 and the total number of people to be released from home isolation to 963.

The number of deaths remained at 65.