Tracy Davidson-Celestine, Secretary for Health Wellness and Family Development.

Loyse Vincent

Health authorities in Tobago are quiet on data showing that Tobago’s COVID-19 infections and deaths soared in the month of July.

It’s been two days since health officials announced that Tobago had recorded its first confirmed case of the Gamma variant, also known as the Brazilian or P1 variant. And while the reported cases on positive COVID-19 infections and deaths continue to increase daily, officials are yet to address how the presence of this highly infectious strain is going to be managed.

Officials in Trinidad first identified the Gamma variant on April 22 and despite various media attempts to find out if the strain had made its way to Tobago, on June 10, member of the Tobago Regional Health Authority (TRHA) COVID-19 Response Team Dr Anthony Thompson said “seven samples from Tobago were flagged for genomic sequencing, however, no results were available at that time.”

On July 1, TRHA officials announced that there was a “cluster” as opposed to an outbreak, after 18 people (both staff and patients) became infected with COVID-19 at the Adult Medical Ward of the Scarborough Regional Hospital.

On July 22, the island recorded its highest number of infections in a 24-hour reporting period with 52 cases. However, Secretary for Health Wellness and Family Development Tracy Davidson-Celestine was unable to provide information related to the cases, saying contact tracing was still ongoing.

July has turned out to be the deadliest month for Tobago since the start of the pandemic, as the island has recorded 544 new cases and 17 deaths thus far, an average daily rate of 19 new infections per day.

In comparison, in the month of June, the island recorded 388 new infections and nine deaths.

The one new death announced by the Ministry of Health yesterday was in Tobago.

According to a TRHA press release, Acting County Medical Officer, Dr Tiffany Hoyte, who has been notably absent from recent weekly TRHA media conferences, said: “The Gamma variant circulating in our community is contributing to the rise in cases. The presence of this variant means that the fight to save lives and to reduce the spread of the virus will become more difficult. Since it is more contagious than the original virus, we expect more cases, and with more cases comes more deaths.”

Guardian Media reached out to Davidson-Celestine yesterday to find out how the island intends to treat with the steadily increasing infections, deaths and the Gamma variant on the island. She said the “medical professional will treat with this.”

Efforts to contact Dr Anthony Thompson for comment on the TRHA’s approach to stem the spike went unanswered.