Trinidad and Tobago has confirmed its highest COVID-19 case count in 24 hours for the pandemic. Yesterday, the Ministry of Health reported 984 cases across the country, surpassing the previous record high of 781 cases confirmed on November 17, 2021.

This surge of cases pushed the country’s active case count to its highest for the pandemic to date of 11,707. As of yesterday afternoon, one in every 120 people in the country had an active COVID-19 infection. To date, with 73,759 cases across the country, one in every 20 people in T&T has had a confirmed positive test result.

The ministry also reported 17 new COVID-related deaths, pushing the death toll to 2,215. Of these deaths, three were elderly males, seven were elderly females, three were middle-aged males and four were middle-aged females. Seven of these 17 patients had no known comorbidity.

The country’s seven-day rolling average for cases stands at 679 cases per day, the highest for the pandemic, while the average for deaths stands at 22 deaths per day, down from a high of 24 deaths per day on Wednesday.

This week, Tobago’s COVID-19 cases and deaths also broke the island’s pandemic records. On Sunday and Friday, the island reported four deaths, both tied for Tobago’s deadliest COVID-19 day. On Thursday, Tobago confirmed its highest COVID-19 case count in 24 hours of 110 cases.

In the last 24-hour reporting period, 61 cases were confirmed, pushing active cases to their second-highest for the pandemic at 788, down from Thursday’s 802.

Hospital balancing act

As the threat of Omicron, COVID’s latest variant, looms, it is well known now that the Delta variant has well established itself in communities across the country. According to WHO/GISAID data, the Ministry of Health has only confirmed 245 cases through genetic sequences. Delta is more contagious than other variants and it can cause a more severe infection.

These severe cases continue to push the nation’s parallel healthcare system to its limits. Hospital occupancy is at the country’s third-highest for the pandemic, with 548 patients warded across the country’s hospitals, accounting for a 73 per cent hospital occupancy.

However, overall occupancy, including step-down facilities, stands at 70 per cent. Of these, six of Trinidad’s seven COVID-19 hospitals were above 75 per cent occupancy, a level at which resources become strained.

The Augustus Long, St Ann’s, Point Fortin and the St James Hospitals all stand above 100% occupancy, meaning non-COVID-19 beds were converted to ward COVID patients.

Looking at intensive care unit occupancy, three ICU beds are left at the Couva Hospital and Multi-training Facility. In Tobago, there was one ICU bed left as of yesterday afternoon.

However, as the balancing act of the hospitals continues, record-high numbers of patients are recovering from the disease. The country recorded its sixth-highest increase in recoveries, with 474 people marked recovered from the disease in the 24-hour reporting period. Of these, 79 were discharged from public health facilities, the ninth highest, and 395 were recovered community cases, the sixth-highest.

Vaccinations marginally increase

The vaccination campaign in T&T has seen a marginal increase in the last two weeks. However, third primary doses maintain a relatively high seven-day rolling average for total vaccines administered.

The country’s seven-day rolling average stands at 3,552 doses of a WHO-approved vaccine administered daily. Looking at those inoculated for the first time, either with a first dose or a one-dose vaccine, that seven-day rolling average stands at a much lower, 1,112 doses a day, up from an average of 1,020 two weeks ago. In the last 24-hour reporting period, there were 3,552 vaccine doses administered, but only 915 of those were either a first dose or a one-dose vaccine.

As the country enters its tenth month with freely accessible vaccines, 53.7 per cent of the population remains unvaccinated, while 57 per cent are not fully vaccinated.

From July 22 through November 17 of this year, 89.8 per cent of patients who transited through the parallel healthcare system were not fully vaccinated. As of November 15, 1,411 of the 1,467 COVID-19 deaths since late May 2021 were unvaccinated, accounting for 96.2 per cent of deaths.