Opposition Leader calls for increased testing in light of 6 deaths, 97 positive cases

Story by RHONDOR DOWLAT-ROSTANT

Opposition Leader, Kamla Persad-Bissessar SC

With another death recorded last night, bringing the COVID-19 death count to 6, and three additional confirmed cases leading to a new total of 97, the Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar SC says there is urgent need for increased testing to prevent deadly spread.

She also said there’s need for posthumous testing of all persons who died in the target period of flu-like or related COVID-19 symptoms, and who were not tested before their deaths.

“This is for the protection and peace of mind of the families of the deceased,” she says, “and health care workers who may have treated these persons.”

In a release issued on Friday morning, Mrs Persad-Bissessar says the increase in statistics clearly indicates an urgent need for “the Ministry of Health to significantly increase its testing capacity of suspected COVID-19 cases among the population”.

The Health Ministry has confirmed in its latest update on Thursday that 97 persons out of the 688 tested so far are positive, while six patients have unfortunately died in the past week.

“In this vein, and in light of its latest statistics, it is therefore simply unacceptable that the Health Ministry has only tested 688 COVID-19 cases out of the 20,000 exposed persons (by their given statistics) in the past month, ” Persad-Bissessar said.

The Opposition Leader called on the Ministry of Health to immediately undertake:

• Widespread testing of all primary, secondary and tertiary health care workers deemed to be exposed/at risk for COVID-19 from any positive patient thus far

• Re-testing of all persons with symptoms consistent with infection who initially tested negative

• Re-testing of all persons who have recovered from infection and were deemed to be adequately immune.

“Daily media reports reinforce the fact that our public Health Sector is already overwhelmed by the crisis in the face the very severe, longstanding limitations of the public health institutions, ” Mrs Persad-Bissessar said.

She made a further recommendation that the Government amends the necessary regulations to undertake a joint medical Public/Private Partnership venture.

This, she explained, would allow Private Medical Labs across the country to undertake testing and, thereby, greatly assist with much needed large scale COVID-19 testing.

“Increased large scale testing as a matter of priority now falls within this ‘must do’ range of solutions at this very fragile state of our nation’s life, if we are to ensure our very survival,” she said.

With regards to the news conference held on Thursday, during which health officials released a sample contact tracing GIS location map of COVID-19 positive cases throughout the country, Mrs Persad-Bissessar described it as worrying.

“This map clearly depicts the potentially very wide spread of COVID-19, especially in three of our most densely populated regions—Chaguanas, the East/West Corridor and Port of Spain.”

She noted that global statistics readily demonstrate that the countries which have prioritised early detection in their fight against the COVID-19 spread via large scale testing of their populations, have had low mortality rates and are most successful in containing the spread.