AS of yesterday, Trinidad and Tobago had recorded 60 confirmed cases of COVID-19, but the Health Minister remains optimistic that “community spread” remains limited.
At a media briefing at his office in Port of Spain yesterday to update the country on COVID-19, Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh noted 44 of the current confirmed cases would have been part of a group of 68 nationals who were exposed to the virus on a cruise and subsequently quarantined on return.
Three of the 44 had arrived separately and were later confirmed, with follow-up treatment of that issue, including contact tracing.
In spite of his optimism that this country remains “in a good place” in the fight against the dreaded virus, Deyalsingh warned the local health system could collapse because of the actions of a few irresponsible persons.
He therefore sought to change the language being used to convey anti-virus protocol for ease of understanding.
Deyalsingh said the term “social distancing” was not being understood by some as people were practicing it inside banks and similar institutions, but then congregating in large groups outside.
“Let’s say just keep apart,” Deyalsingh said.
In giving the assurance the local population and front-line workers would be well protected in the fight against COVID-19, Deyalsingh said PPE (safety wear) stocks, comprising items already in place and more expected soon from various sources, would have the country “well covered”.
The minister said over one million N95 particulate masks will soon be in stock as part of the PPE gear available to persons in essential services, such as healthcare workers.
There are 37,000 masks currently in stock, with incoming amounts of 26,000 and 195,000 expected soon.
Several hundred thousand are expected from the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO), he said.
This country also received 1,000 goggles, and at a handover yesterday that included National Security Minister Stuart Young, as well as 1,000 thermal scanners, all from China.
Another 10,000 are expected, and Deyalsingh said the system will soon be stocked with 25 to 30,000 scanners.
Over 150,000 disposable gowns are in stock, and this is expected to increase to 500,000 following an incoming shipment.
Some 180,000 head covers are also in stock, he said.
Over 13 million disposable gloves are also available to front-line workers, and there will be no reusing of PPE gear as in other countries, Deyalsingh said.
He again reminded that the ministry’s COVID-19 hotline—877-WELL (9355) was intended only for genuine concerns about the illness.