The Government has reimplemented COVID-19 restrictions in a bid to curtail the current upward trajectory of cases. For the next 21 days, effective as of 12 am today– April 15– beaches are closed to the public except those affiliated with leatherback turtle conservation activities, in-house dining is prohibited in restaurants, cinemas, casinos and bars and the number of people allowed to gather in public was brought down to no more than five.
It’s the second time for the year the Government has had to reimplement restrictions in an attempt to bring the spread under control.
On April 1, the Ministry of Health reinstated a ban on contact sports. It was the first measure to be reimplemented since the second “lockdown” period was enforced on August 17, 2020. When numbers first started to rise earlier in March, Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley warned that another “lockdown” period would be imposed if they continued to rise.
However, he noted that unlike previously done, the Government would not be able to afford to provide financial assistance to citizens. In that time the seven-day rolling average of daily cases increased by over 1,400 per cent– going from as low as three per day to now 42.
The Ministry of Health also confirmed the largest number of positive cases for the year yesterday with 85 samples collected between April 11 and 13 returning positive.
This followed 70 confirmations on Tuesday. Two additional deaths were also recorded yesterday bringing the total fatalities from the virus in the country up to 148.
They were both adult males with multiple comorbidities according to the ministry’s update. By yesterday evening, active cases stood at 630.
During a presentation yesterday, the Ministry of Health’s Epidemiology Division Technical Director Dr Avery Hinds confirmed that cases were not only on the rise but were also spreading further across the country geographically. The majority of cases are concentrated along the East-West corridor- one of the more densely populated areas of the country.
Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh said the move was made in consultation with the ministry’s medical team, the Minister of National Security and the Prime Minister.
He said the restrictions implemented also took into account an anticipated larger spike.
“What we at the ministry now have to do is factor in the post-Easter surge which would start to come this weekend and ask ourselves if we don’t do something now, we will have another surge two weeks from now on top of our Easter surge so our hospital occupancy is going to increase,” he said.
In just over a month, hospital occupancy rose to 25 per cent, he indicated.
Minister Deyalsingh indicated that religious services would not be affected by the reduction in people allowed to congregate in public. However, he said proper COVID-19 protocols must be observed and there should not be more than 50 per cent occupancy.