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Chief Medical Officer Dr Roshan Parasram.

The South Western Regional Health facility (SWRHA) is looking at a couple of step down facilities for COVID-19 patients to begin running soon and other regional health authorities are also getting such facilities, says Chief Medical Officer Dr Roshan Parasram.

Parasram confirmed this at yesterday’s daily Health Ministry update on the COVID-19 situation.

Queries were posed on why the Eastern Regional Health (ERHA) Authority was chosen to establish “step down” facilities recently. Such facilities have been housing convalescing COVID-19 patients.

Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh yesterday said facilities were chosen by the CMO and County Medical officer to have places which had space, bed capacity and no immediate neighbours.

Parasram said the North Central Regional Health Authority (NCRHA) was handling the bulk of COVID-19 patients and the ERHA had started step down centres at Balandra and Sangre Grande.

Parasram added, “Other RHAs are being asked to get similar facilities. The SWRHA is looking at a couple which we hope to get running soon, so the ERHA alone wasn’t chosen. All other RHAs have that opportunity outside of the NCRHA which has a heavy burden.”

Deyalsingh also said he’d received yesterday morning, the ERHA’s report on the procurement of the Sangre Grande step down centre and its readiness for COVID-19 patients arrival last weekend.

The ministry sought the report after recently reported issues at the centre. Procurement is also being questioned after an Express report indicated the facility was being rented for $105,000 monthly for the next three months and the owner’s alleged to have ties with the ruling PNM. Deyalsingh recently said the arrangement was done between the ERHA and he supposed “all that” would come out in the report.

Yesterday Deyalsingh said he couldn’t make any promises on whether Government would do as Jamaica and others have done— planned reward for healthcare worker—but he said: “We’ll look at it.”

He also said once authorities get the capacity they’d start mobile testing for the virus. But the Government is awaiting extraction kits. He said they have 4,000 kits but this didn’t come with extraction aspects. Deyalsingh also urged elderly and pregnant women especially, to get the 40,000 (H1N1) flu vaccines Government is offering.