2778662
Terrence Deyalsingh, Minister of Health

SHARLENE RAMPERSAD

[email protected]

Six of the 305 people who started their 14-day quarantine on Friday on board the Enchantment of the Seas cruise ship docked in T&T waters have tested positive for the COVID-19.

The numbers were confirmed in the Ministry of Health’s clinical update yesterday afternoon.

Earlier in the day, the ministry announced that one person from the group had tested positive.

At that time, the release said that 308 tests were done onboard the ship but only 153 results had been released.

That release stated that 155 test results were pending.

Those pending results were received yesterday afternoon, showing five more positive cases.

Three hundred nationals remain onboard the vessel, continuing their quarantine.

Guardian Media understands that the six crew members were removed from the vessel by Coast Guard officers and taken to the Caura Hospital for treatment.

These positive cases now bring the combined total of cases to 123, with 3385 people having been tested. From the 123 positive cases, 109 patients have recovered and eight have died.

Guardian Media reached out to one of the cruise ship crew members who are still on the vessel in quarantine.

The crew member said the vessel has adequate facilities to accommodate the quarantine.

“Each crew member is in his /her own room with explicit instructions that they are not to leave. Everyone understands what’s at stake here….and everyone is willing to comply so that we can get this behind us,” the crew member said.

She said the crew members are not new to the quarantine process or social distancing requirements as this has become the norm over the past two- and- a- half months.

Asked if there was fear among the remaining group with the news of the six positive cases, the crew member said, “I can’t really answer this as there is pretty much no interaction between crew members so I cannot say with certainty how others feel. However, I would imagine that people are concerned for our colleagues who have tested positive, and hope that they receive the medical care that they need to facilitate recovery.”

In an interview with Guardian Media last evening, Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh said while the new cases are worrying, the parallel healthcare facilities for treatment of COVID-positive patients are nowhere near capacity.

On Saturday, at a press conference, Deyalsingh said the quarantine facilities were nearing capacity, which restricts how many nationals will be allowed to return home in the coming weeks.

Last night, he said the Government expected that when large groups were brought in, there would be positive cases.

“That is why we kept Caura and Couva empty, knowing that when you bring in huge numbers of people, some will be positive. And that is why as a Government, we didn’t give in to emotion and just open the border, this is clear proof that the measures that we took were solid and work in the best interest of the country,” Deyalsingh said.

The ship docked on Friday after weeks of discussions between its management and Minister of National Security Stuart Young to decide whether the 305 nationals on board could be quarantined on the ship as to not overburden the country’s quarantine facilities.

The ship is expected to remain docked in T&T waters for at least two weeks as the employees of Royal Caribbean cruises remain on board for their mandatory 14-day quarantine before being allowed to return home.

Nineteen crew members from the Norwegian Cruise Lines are due to arrive in the country today and another seven crew members from Disney Cruises will arrive tomorrow.

Students from the University of the West Indies Cave Hill Campus are also expected to return home today.

On Saturday, 140 students from the UWI Mona Campus in Jamaica returned home.

That group is being quarantined at the Canada Hall at the UWI St Augustine Campus.