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Rough data from the Ministry of Health shows that 48.5 per cent of COVID-19 positive people currently in home self-isolation have co-morbidities.

The data was presented by the Chief Medical Officer Dr Roshan Parasram during a Ministry of Health news conference yesterday. However, he noted that the figures were from a few days ago and did not include data from St George Central, St Patrick and St Andrews/St David because they “didn’t have the complete data at the time.”

Asked by Guardian Media about the high incidence of people with co-morbidities being infected, Dr Parasram said he believes it’s because of the high number of people living with these co-morbidities within the population.

“If you have a population with that large burden of diabetes or hypertension – whatever it may be – as a co-morbid base, of course, based on the infection you get it would be extremely difficult to isolate these people completely as a separate group. Hence the reason I believe the reason we have infections in those groups,” he said.

Consultant and Endocrinologist at the South West Regional Health Authority (SWRHA) and host of CNC3’s Ask the Doctor programme, Dr Joel Teelucksingh explained that many of these co-morbidities can be the result of a poor diet and sedentary lifestyle which “remains the pillars when we’re dealing with these chronic illnesses.”

But these pillars, he said, were worsened by the pandemic and the advice to stay home and even the “lockdown” measures which mandated it.

“As a result of this lack of exercise and sedentary lifestyle and poor diets, we found that there was certainly not just an increase risk of admissions to health centres with these problems but also a spike in admissions to emergency departments for uncontrolled chronic problems,” he said.

“So high blood sugars, high blood pressures and even some of the potentially life-threatening problems like strokes and heart-attacks.”

He, however, noted that stresses from the pandemic and its mental health effects could also be a contributing factor.

Both Dr Teelucksingh and Dr Parasram appealed to citizens with co-morbidities to make an enhanced effort to protect themselves from COVID-19.

Breakdown of co-morbidities among COVID-19 positive patients in home isolation

Hypertension- 32.4%

Diabeties- 23.2%

Asthma- 13.8%

Pregnant 3.2%

Heart Disease- 2.9%

Immune Difficiency- 1.1%

Other- 22.6%