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Prison officer Arshad Singh sanitises his hands before entering the newly-commissioned Claxton Bay Correctional Facility earlier this week.

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Trinidad and Tobago has crossed the 5,000 mark for the total number of COVID-19 cases recorded overall, while deaths climbed to 89 yesterday.

In its latest update yesterday, the Ministry of Health confirmed three additional deaths. It said all three fatalities were elderly males with pre-existing medical conditions.

The ministry also confirmed 58 new cases, pushing the country’s total since the first case was recorded on March 12 up to 5,021.

Despite these cases, the total active cases decreased to 1,776 after 80 people were released from the ministry’s care; 13 were discharged from public health facilities while 67 were released from home isolation as recovered community cases. This also brought the total number of people to recover from the virus locally to 3,150.

There were also 115 people receiving treatment for the virus at hospital while 36 people were in step-down/transitional facilities. The largest of this group was the 27 inmates at the Claxton Bay correctional facility, 13 of whom were transferred from the Scarborough prison on Thursday night. However, that facility only has a capacity of 33 and with at least 45 inmates’ test results still pending, there is the possibility that there may not be enough spaces to accommodate infected inmates. Speaking briefly with Guardian Media yesterday about the possibility of such a scenario developing, acting Commissioner of Prisons Dennis Pulchan said: “I guess the Ministry of Health would have to pick up the slack.”

However, he added that the prisons’ capacity to isolate infected patients could soon be bolstered with the addition of a facility in Tobago.

“Currently, negotiations are on the way to identify a facility in Tobago, so right now that discussion is happening,” Pulchan said.