Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh responds to a question on health workers during yesterday’s sitting of Parliament.


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As the COVID-death toll continues to rise, County Medical Officer of Health for Caroni Dr Jeanine St Bernard is appealing to patients who are in home quarantine to be truthful with doctors if their conditions worsen.

St Bernard made the appeal during the Ministry of Health’s virtual press conference yesterday, after being asked what were the factors influencing the spike in COVID-19-related deaths over the past four days.

Since Friday, the death toll went from 15 to 22 – with seven new deaths, including the latest one yesterday – an elderly female with co-morbidities.

In her contribution to the press conference, St Bernard identified the symptoms and pre-existing conditions that would trigger hospitalisation for COVID-19 patients (See box).

She appealed to those patients at home to inform the Ministry of Health doctors who call them twice daily if their conditions worsen.

Asked what were the causational factors to the recent spike in deaths of people with co-morbidities, St Bernard replied, “I think that is a critical aspect to the home management of patients with COVID-19, hence the reason I made the plea, please let us know.”

St Bernard said there have been cases where patients reported feeling well but hours later, their relatives were phoning in for help.

“We have had cases where we have asked people, how are you doing and we were told they were doing quite fine and by the time relatives are calling, well you know it’s a different story. So we do encourage persons to really encourage people to state how they are going, how they are feeling, so we can avoid any future deaths at home,” she said.

Speaking before St Bernard, Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh said the Ministry of Health was prepared to distribute 1,000 pulse oximeters to patients in home quarantine to help with the process of determining their condition.

Demonstrating how the oximeter works, St Bernard said if a patient’s oxygen level drops to below 94 per cent they could die.

“You are being called twice daily to be monitored via telephone, it is critical that you tell us what your symptoms are. If you downplay your symptoms, this can lead to a dangerous situation whereby you can de-compensate at home and it can possibly lead to fatal consequences,” she said.

She said the tiny monitor also checks for heart rate and warned that if a patient’s heart rate crosses 110 beats per minute they could need immediate hospitalisation.

Guidelines to follow:

If you are COVID-positive and have no pre-existing medical conditions but experience the following worsening symptoms, you will require immediate hospitalisation to save your life.

Any three of the following will trigger hospitalisation

– increasing shortness of breath

– increasing fatigue

– confusion

– chills

– persistent fever

If you have comorbidities, such as diabetes, hypertension or you are immuno-compromised, e.g. on steroids, taking chemotherapy, end-stage renal failure or chronic pulmonary disease, you will require hospitalisation if you have the following symptoms:

– increasing shortness breath

– any central nervous system manifestation i.e. headaches, dizziness, being in and out of consciousness, uncoordinated movements etc.

If you have any comorbidities and experience any worsening of symptoms, immediately contact an ambulance or go to a hospital emergency department.