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New mother Asha Dookie chats with Minister of Health Terrence Deyalsingh with her New Year’s son who was the first baby born for 2021 at the San Fernando General Hospital.

As the country welcomes ten new babies on the first day of 2021, Health Minister Terrance Deyalsingh is guaranteeing that 2021 will be better than last year.

Deyalsingh was speaking at a media conference at the San Fernando Teaching Hospital where he revealed that the first three babies were born at the San Fernando General Hospital, with the first baby being delivered at 12.06 am.

The media was not allowed on the ward to visit with the proud parents and their babies as done in previous years due to COVID-19. The minister, however, said that T&T has done remarkably well with its COVID-19 response.

“I can say without fear or favour that Trinidad and Tobago is probably one of the best places in the world to be right now if you are scared of COVID-19. Our case numbers are low, the seven day rolling average is the high teens to early 20s and has been like that for now about two to three months.”

While the global average of the case fatality ratio is in the region of three per cent, he said T&T case fatality ratio is 1.77 which is significantly lower.

With T&T hopefully receiving the first batch of vaccines in March, Deyalsingh said by then there would be sufficient data for them to decide the most appropriate vaccine for this country.

“Our numbers are so low now as oppose to the United States and other countries which have the vaccines for emergency use authorisation because of their numbers. Let us use this period between January February and March to look at more data.”

Having received regulatory approval, he said the Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines will now go into Phase Four known as the post-market surveillance.

“And out of that by March we will have so much more safety data to make a decision of which vaccine is most appropriate for our population. Is it safe to use in pregnant people? Right now it is not because we don’t have the data. Can it be used in children under 18? Right now we don’t have the data. Can it be used in people with severe allergies? Right now the answer seems to be no. So let us use this period to collect as much endpoint data we can so by March we can introduce a vaccine which is safe, which is effective and which the population can trust. Because trust is going to be important as we roll out the vaccination plan,” he said.

Even with a vaccine on the horizon, the minister reminded the public that there was no silver bullet and they must continue to adhere to all the COVID-19 regulations and guidelines, including the proper wearing of masks, hand washing, stay home if ill, sanitisation and social distancing. The minister was also confident that the closure of the country’s borders will prevent the COVID-19 variant from getting a strong foothold here. He said in the coming days they will be able to say how the population behaved during the holidays by the number of new COVID-19 infections.

Meanwhile, at the San Fernando General Hospital, Asha Dookie gave birth to a six-pound baby boy just minutes into the new year, at 12.06 am while Kerlise Farraday delivered her baby girl, weighing 6.16 pounds, at 1.45 am. The third baby and the only other boy was born to Jacinta Williams at 2.49 am.

Three other baby girls were born at the Mount Hope Maternal Hospital to Alleah Burke, Shakera Jerry and Naomi Cedeno at 3.08 am, 3.39 am and 4.52 am respectively. At the Port-of-Spain General Hospital Dallyah Wallace, Selene Yearwood and Shannon Beharry-Holder welcomed their babies at 3. 26 am, 4.16 am and 5.38 am while the tenth baby was born to Shinnell Mahabir at the Sangre Grande Hospital at 9.08 am.