PEOPLE who have the COVID-19 coronavirus can die if they wait too long to seek help and their symptoms worsen, says Chief Medical Officer Dr Roshan Parasram.
“We have seen cases where people wait too long and they come in with very severe symptoms and they have actually died...If you don’t let us know early on in a disease what your symptoms are when we can deal with you, well when you are mild and you wait too long the ultimate end can be death in terms of not being able to manage it properly,” said Parasram.
He was speaking yesterday at a virtual news conference in Port of Spain to give an update on COVID-19.
He emphasised that people in high-risk groups especially must make early contact with medical officials to prevent death.
Parasram noted that his epidemiology experts said there had been a reduction in other viral illnesses such as the common cold and H1N1 (swine flu).
They believe there was a significant reduction because of all the public health measures in place. In providing a clinical update of the COVID-19 cases in Trinidad and Tobago Parasram said 90 people were hospitalised.
He said one is at the Scarborough General Hospital.
Eighty patients are at the Couva hospital-two in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) and one on a ventilator.
Parasram said 13 patients were in the High Dependency Unit (HDU) while 65 patients are ambulatory and doing well, the majority without symptoms.
He said 17 of them will be moved to another facility shortly.
Nine patients are at the Caura hospital with mild symptoms.
The CMO also addressed questions that Carnival celebrations could have contributed to the spread of the virus.
He said if this were so, there would be tens of thousands of COVID-19 cases now.
“Our testing would have started appropriately by CARPHA in a time prior to getting an importation of cases. We would have put restrictions to China on January 30 and China was the main country that would have had spread at that time. Subsequent to that, we would have closed our borders to non-nationals coming from nine counties based on our global look to see where the disease was spreading to,” he said. “I don’t think there was a risk prior to that time when we began testing, of Trinidad having imported cases. And as we tested, even during the Carnival season, there were groups of people that came forward to us and said they were in contact with persons from the US, from Canada, from the UK, and at the time of Carnival, there were very, very few cases in those countries.” Parasram said there were fewer than 50 cases in those overseas territories before Carnival, and maybe as low as ten in the United States out of 300 million people, so the numbers were very low.
“We still tested those people coming out of the Carnival season and all of them have been deemed negative. Some of them have even said to us they were in very close contact with people who have subsequently gone back to the US,” he said.
Parasram disclosed that he was personally aware of one case - an individual who developed flu-like symptoms but after being tested, the person was COVID-19 negative.
“If we had transmission of this virus during the Carnival season we would have had tens of thousands of coronavirus cases in Trinidad and Tobago to date. Now I don’t think prior to getting our first case on March 12, there would have been any cases in Trinidad and Tobago,” he said.