Members of the public wait for transport on Wilson Road, Scarborough, Tobago, yesterday.

Tobago has seen an increase in emergency COVID-19 cases and health officials warn of a peak in the number of positive cases on the island in the next four weeks.

During the Division of Health Wellness and Family Development hosted its weekly COVID-19 update yesterday, officials announced that the number of weekly positive cases continue to increase.

While they urged people to remain at home as much as possible and refrain from mixing households, projections indicate that the number of positive cases will peak in the next four weeks.

Member of the COVID-19 task force, Dr Anthony Thompson, said based on an assessment of the World Health Organization (WHO) Essential Supply Forecasting tool that looks at the average contacts per person and the probability of transmission for each contact between infected and susceptible people, the worst is yet to come.

“We are at week 10 out of the 25th of May. What the module projects is over the next four weeks, the cases will rise every week. It will peak at week 14.”

However, he said it’s possible to reverse this outcome if people remain in their households.

“If persons comply, the average number of contacts per week would be reduced, the number of new cases per week would be back to single digits by week 17 and the island could go back to zero by week 24.”

Thompson also said there has been a change in pattern in the source of the positive cases.

He said traditionally, the number of positive cases was attributed to primary and secondary contacts of cases in households and workplaces, but now more persons are turning up at the hospital for urgent care.

“What we are seeing is that some of the results are from gene expert at the Scarborough Hospital, which we use for urgent cases at the Accident and Emergency Unit, so what we are seeing is persons who are known to be primary contacts. (In) some cases, those persons are known to be in contact with positive and now we have persons who are popping up with a severe illness that are then testing positive.”

Tobago House of Assembly (THA) Secretary for Health Wellness and Family Development Tracy Davidson-Celestine also appealed to residents to remain at home as much as possible to reduce the spread. She said while there may be room for expansion at this time, the TRHA “cannot keep adding beds.”

She also gave an update on the current capacity of the various treatment facilities.

“At this moment, the Green Room of the Tobago Regional Health Authority is at 72 per cent occupancy, the Rehab Centre, where persons who are moderately ill and require oxygen, is at 86 per cent occupancy and the ICU facility is at 20 per cent capacity.”

She said the step-down facility is currently at 34 per cent and two additional facilities are currently being outfitted and more beds will be provided.

Meanwhile, manager of Primary Health Care at the TRHA, Dr Roxanne Mitchell, said to date, 4,985 people have been vaccinated on the island, including 506 healthcare workers.

Yesterday, the island recorded 19 new cases which brought the total number of active cases to 143.

Tobago also recorded its youngest fatality yesterday, a 38-year-old male with comorbidities, bringing the total number of deaths on the island to 9.