If you have the COVID-19 virus but cannot quarantine yourself at home because you do not have the room to do so, you can contact the Ministry of Health for assistance.

Speaking at a press conference at the Diplomatic Centre in St Ann’s on Saturday, Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh said anyone with the virus can reach out to the ministry and be put in state quarantine if they choose.

“We have made the refinement now that persons who live in conditions like apartments who cannot properly self-isolate and quarantine, we are now offering them the voluntary option, come into state quarantine because we understand you don’t have more than two or three bathrooms in your house, its one bedroom,” Deyalsingh said.

He said the state quarantine will be free of charge until the quarantine period is completed.

Deyalsingh said patients in state-quarantine facilities in Tobago will remain there until further notice as he said given Tobago’s small population and the small number of positive cases, it remains the best option.

Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley also warned citizens who are in self-quarantine not to leave their homes.

Earlier in the press conference, Chief Medical Officer Dr Roshan Parasram said if Ministry of Health officials tries to contact COVID-positive patients who are supposed to be in quarantine without success, the ministry can order that those people be picked up and mandated to stay in state quarantine and possibly be charged for breaching the Quarantine Act.

Rowley warned people against breaching the act, adding, “The bottom line is home is the area of your domicile where you are responsible for, so if it’s in a compound in a gated community, your home is whatever number your house is, not the community, not to be outside and say ok, I’m outside, that’s what the quarantine is about, keeping you isolated.”

Parasram also warned those in quarantine to contact the ministry or an ambulance as soon as possible if their conditions worsen at home.

“We have quite a large number of people at home, nursing themselves in mild conditions, the ones that need to be brought into hospital are those who have comorbidities, diabetes, hypertension and people over 60 with those conditions, but certainly we don’t want people to stay at home and have worsening of your symptoms.”

Parasram said if those patients have shortness of breath, vomiting, diarrhoea, feeling weak or tired, they should immediately go to the hospital for treatment.

Parasram said the ministry was trying to acquire pulse oximeters (to monitor oxygen saturation) for patients in home quarantine so they will be able to clinically test if that patient’s condition is worsening.