With the State of Emergency and curfew nearing an end, Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh MP has admitted to being concerned that this will lead to a further rise in COVID-19 cases.
The minister was responding to a fear that when the SOE comes to an end on November 30th, several people might think that life goes back to normal.
Speaking on the Morning Panchayat Programme on Aakash Vani 106.5 FM, Deyalsingh said:
“I am deathly afraid of that because then the partying is going to start back and all of these things are going to start back, and cases would most likely skyrocket. Our health care system—the parallel health care system—may be overwhelmed and we are dealing with the known Delta variant. What happens if tomorrow you hear about another variant which is more deadly? What are we going to do?”
The minister was also concerned that people were becoming desensitised to COVID-19 deaths.
“I fear that we are becoming numb to this. If you heard there were 12 murders every day in Trinidad and Tobago, the country would be in an uproar. There will be calls for this, calls for that the Minister of National Security must resign. We need a new Police Commissioner. We need this, we need that… But every day, 12 families are plunged into mourning because of COVID-19, mainly amongst the unvaccinated, and there is no public discussion. There is no anxiety, there is no gnashing of teeth and I find it disconcerting that we are turning a blind eye to all this suffering every day,” he lamented.
Despite the high numbers, the minister was hopeful that the country would come out on top:
“I wouldn’t say we are losing the fight. I am never one to give up. I am never one to throw up my hands in despair, but I am a realist.”
He noted that the latest data shows that of the 5,453 people passing through the parallel health care system, 5,033 were unvaccinated.
“The only way to come out of this is to get more and more of the unvaccinated to be vaccinated,” he added.
Asked whether the government was considering stricter measures against unvaccinated people as seen in other countries, Deyalsingh said:
“Our country, our Constitution, our way of life is different to Singapore. It is different to Austria. It is different to many other countries. It is different to Antigua, and to Guyana, who have taken stronger measures. It is not for me only as Minister of Health to speak about this, this is a more national discussion to be led by the Cabinet.”
Minister Deyalsingh urged people to get vaccinated, pointing out that no one seems to care about the health care workers who are exhausted. He revealed the vaccinated rate of doctors reached 95 per cent, while nurses were between 65 to 70 per cent vaccinated.
“Who are we are going to hold responsible very soon if the parallel health care system is full and people start to die in the car park of the hospital waiting for treatments? Are you going to blame the Minister of Health?” he asked.
With vaccines widely available to the public, the Minister said the onus and the responsibility have shifted from the government to the citizenry.
The Ministry of Health update yesterday (November 11th) stated there were 509 new infections and 12 deaths from COVID-19. Among the new infections were 43 Delta Variant cases, bringing the total number of Delta cases to 199.