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Rishard Khan

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The country began its national COVID-19 vaccination drive one week ago on April 6 and growing public acceptance and demand for vaccines within its region has now forced the North West Regional Health Authority (NWRHA) to double its vaccination sites.

This was the word from NWRHA Chief Executive Officer Salisha Baksh during a Ministry of Health virtual press conference yesterday.

There are currently NWRHA distribution sites at the Barataria and the Diego Martin Health Centres. However, the authority will include the Morvant and Carenage Health Centres.

“We are going to have the Morvant Health Centre designated as a vaccination site. That should be up and running by tomorrow (today) and we would be vaccinating our NCD (non-communicable disease) patients on Wednesday, which is the designated NCD clinic day,” Baksh said.

She said the logistics for adding the Carenage Health Centre were currently being explored.

“We are also taking a decision to add an additional vaccination site in our St George West county, which is densely populated as indicated before and the Carenage Health Centre has been earmarked to be that vaccination site. We are still working out the logistical issues with respect to that and we should be having that site up and running within the shortest period of time,” she said.

During the first week of the national vaccination drive, Baksh said 299 people visited the Barataria Health Centre while 2,061 people visited the Diego Martin Health Centre.

Up to 4 pm yesterday, 8,638 people had so far been vaccinated.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Health’s Principal Medical Officer of Institutions Dr Maryam Abdool-Richards urged citizens to be vigilant after the second case of someone infected with the UK variant of COVID-19 (B117) was detected in the country yesterday.

“This person is currently receiving medical care in the parallel healthcare system and is isolated,” Abdool-Richards.

The first case of the UK variant, a repatriated national who came from the United Kingdom, was confirmed in T&T on January 21, 2021.

Abdool-Richards yesterday reiterated that COVID-19 cases continue to rise steadily, going from a seven-day rolling average of around four cases per day to now 32 per day within the past five weeks.

The ministry yesterday confirmed 37 new COVID-19 cases from samples collected between April 9 and 11. This brought the total number of people infected locally up to 8,441. Despite these new cases, 35 people recovered from the virus after the ministry released them from under its care; 29 people were released from home self-isolation while six people were discharged from public health facilities. This meant the number of active cases increased by two and now stands at 520. Of these, 411 were in home self-isolation, 68 were in hospitals and four were in step-down facilities. Deaths remained at 146.

Abdool-Richards said the online platform for citizens to schedule their vaccination appointments should be up by the week’s end.

Responding to a question from Guardian Media, she said the shipment of 40,000 doses of Covishield (Oxford-AstraZeneca) COVID-19 vaccines from India, which were initially expected to arrive yesterday, had been delayed.

“We have not received those vaccines as yet but the actual importation date has been delayed due to extenuating circumstances or circumstances that are beyond our control,” she said.

“The Ministry of Health will provide updates once a confirmed date is given.”

Information from the India High Commission yesterday revealed the vaccines were now scheduled to arrive in T&T today.