Emergency medical technicians mill around ambulances parked outside the Couva Hospital and Multi-Training Facility after dropping off COVID-19 patients yesterday.

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The deadly COVID-19 virus has now killed 50 people in Trinidad and Tobago, after the Ministry of Health announced yesterday that there had been seven fatalities – the largest number to be recorded within 24 hours locally to date.

The recent fatalities were three elderly females and two elderly males with co-morbidities and two adult males. One of them was reputed Port-of-Spain gang leader and businessman Cedric “Burkie” Burke, who died at the Couva Hospital.

The deaths brought the count for the second phase of infections locally to 42. The second phase of the virus began on July 20 with case 139.

The total number of active cases also increased to 2,013 after 127 new cases were reported and brings the total number of cases to be recorded since March 12 up to 2,825. The ministry, however, noted that the recently announced cases do not represent a 24-hour increase as it included samples taken as early as August 31.

The delayed test results have been brought on by an overburdening of testing infrastructure which came shortly after the second phase’s community transmission of the virus began. It resulted in a backlog which the ministry has been trying to clear ever since.

Since the beginning of the second phase, Government partially rolled back on the reopening of the country on August 16; reducing the number of people allowed to gather from ten to five, closed beaches, rivers and water parks, ceased all in-house dining and made the wearing of masks in public mandatory among other measures for 28 days, ending today.

Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley is expected to address journalists and the public at 2.30 pm today with an update for the country on the way forward. But with 2,260 cases and 50 overall deaths recorded, it’s likely to be extended in one form or another.

Since the new measures were implemented, Minister of Health Terrence Deyalsingh has stated numerous times that their main focus was to break the community transmission of the virus and have T&T’s transmission classification downgraded to cluster spread. However, the country is still listed as having community transmission. An accurate picture of the daily caseload is yet to be fully realised due to a large number of outstanding samples results. Technical Director of the ministry’s Epidemiology Division Dr Avery Hinds has periodically shown graphs with the aggregated data. His most recent presentation on Monday at the ministry’s virtual press conference showed a downward trend of daily recorded cases but even Hinds noted it is subject to change as the backlog in tests is cleared.