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Rishard Khan

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COVID-19 claimed the life of an 18-year-old girl earlier this week. She is now on record as the youngest patient in the Trinidad and Tobago among the 107 victims to have lost their lives to the virus.

Confirmation of her death came from the Ministry of Health’s principal medical officer Dr Maryam Abdool-Richards during yesterday’s virtual press conference but did not go into specific details about the case.

However, Guardian Media was reliably informed by a medical source who requested anonymity that the victim was an 18-year-old girl who was warded on life support at the Couva Multi-Training Facility when she died on Monday, becoming T&T 106th COVID-related death. She was also diabetic and reportedly had blood sugar levels around 500 milligrams per decilitre (mg/dL).

While Abdool-Richards cited a patient’s right to confidentiality as the reason for the non-disclosure of information of the victim, she did say, “Our last death, which was reported between the last media conference and this morning, occurred in a person under the 25-year age group. While this was an exceptional circumstance – and the person had a pre-existing medical condition.”

She warned, “No one is immune from the morbidity or illness, death or mortality from COVID-19.”

Contacted yesterday on the teen’s death, internal medicine, endocrinology and diabetes specialist Dr Joel Teelucksingh explained that normal fasting blood sugar is under 100 mg/dL while normal blood sugar two hours after eating is under 140 milligrams per decilitre. While he was not aware of the patient’s medical condition or particulars, he noted that the high blood sugar level does not mean her diabetes was uncontrolled and could have been a result of the infection.

“Diabetes lowers immunity and increases susceptibility to infection. COVID-19 or any other infection will elevate the blood sugar and could cause complications like diabetic ketoacidosis that requires hospitalisation, insulin and intravenous fluids,” Teelucksingh, who hosts CNC3’s Ask the Doctor programme, said.

There was also another death yesterday, taking the total to 107. The ministry said the person was an elderly male with pre-existing medical conditions.

The ministry’s update also indicated 26 new infections, although it noted this represented the results from samples taken between October 25 and 27. This brought the total number of infected people since the first case on March 12 up to 5,594.

Despite these new infections, the number of active cases decreased following the release of 60 people from the ministry’s care. Five people were discharged from public health facilities while 55 people were released from home self-isolation as “recovered community cases.” The released positive cases brought the total number of people to recover from the virus to 4,246. Of the 1,241 current active cases, 1,148 are in home self-isolation, 62 are hospitalised and 31 are in step-down/ transitional facilities. There are also 198 people in state quarantine facilities.