When Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley announced a roll-back of Covid-19 restrictions on August 15, hundreds of people flocked to beaches and rivers for a “last dip”.

Hundreds also flocked to bars for a last lap before bars were forced to close, in keeping with the restrictions. It was this behaviour that led to the recent spike in Covid-19 cases. This is according to epidemiologist Dr Avery Hinds, who noted the numbers began to increase from August 17.

Speaking during yesterday’s virtual media conference, Hinds presented a series of graphs showing the spread of the virus in T&T.

“We do see that post the recommendation on the 17th, we see that we have no in-house dining, no gatherings in beaches, etc, there continued to be something of an uptick; and then on September 2, which is approximately two weeks after the ‘last lap’ activity that preceded the closure of beaches and bars, that we did have a spike that most likely corresponds to an increased number of individuals coming into contact and transmitting illness,” he said.

He added that a downward trend was observed at the end of July, following the reintroduction of restrictions on public gatherings and other regulations.

Legislation making mask-wearing mandatory in public spaces, which came into effect last month, has led to a decrease in transmission, he added.

“There are a few interesting things we want to point out on the graph. We have a few arrows at different dates. We have the date at the end of July when we began to look at rolling back some of the freedoms, number of individuals gathering, to less than ten, things that we noted were necessary as we began to see an increase in the number of cases on a daily basis.

“This was early on and even so we do note that the recommendations to reduce gathering and congregations above the number of ten, those recommendations were not necessarily followed in the first week or so of August.

“Since then we have seen that downward trend and we are hoping that it continues. We do note the last point on that graph, first of August where the mask legislation came in, we are hoping that it has the continued effect of reducing transmission on a daily basis.”

Decrease in cases

Despite large numbers of cases being reported daily, with 202 new cases reported yesterday, Hinds said the month of September has shown a decrease in positive cases.

He said the trend for September was that it appeared to be going down.

“We do know that as we do the updates figures get revised retrospectively and we have noted that some of the tests would have been before the period of this update, but even with that recurring pattern which is in itself diminishing, we see there is a tendency to see fewer cases on a daily basis within the month of September,” he said.

Also speaking during the conference, Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh issued another plea for the public to abide by the regulations and uphold the “spirit of the law” in their homes.

“Law alone will not solve this. We are asking for people to abide by the spirit of law. That is, the same way we are saying no more than five people in public, the spirit of law is conduct yourself the same way at home. The same way we are saying wear masks in public, if you have a Covid-positive patient at home, wear a mask in private. The spirit of the law is what will see us through this.”