Terrence Deyalsingh

Minister of Health Terrence Deyalsingh

HEALTH Minister Terrence Deyalsingh has levelled a “bouff” on those young men insistent on partying during the COVID-19 pandemic, calling on them to “man up” and stop placing the entire country at risk.

A sombre Deyalsingh said yesterday he had noted the so-called “COVID-19” parties being organised — one of which was busted by the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service (TTPS), at Alicia’s Guest House in St Ann’s on Thursday night — featured young men who appeared not to be concerned with Government’s stay-at-home guidelines.

The Health Minister said Trinidad and Tobago was preparing for its second and third waves of COVID-19 and there was no telling what the numbers would be like. However, he warned that the irresponsible behaviour of these few could condemn the entire country.

“Will we get 500 cases? That all depends on the population, especially the young men of Trinidad and Tobago who seem to be bent on destroying the healthcare system by having COVID parties,” Deyalsingh said at the Ministry’s virtual news conference to update on COVID-19 in T&T.

“I’m asking the young men to man up! Be a man and stop the reckless behaviour with these COVID parties and liming. Man up or you will drown us all,” the Minister implored.

Deyalsingh attempted to underscore the reality of the pandemic and its social and economic price, saying the behaviour of these young men suggests they are not understanding the gravity of the situation, particularly with respect to Trinidad and Tobago and its economic status.

“That has come at a tremendous cost to the country in this time of low economic activity, it has come at tremendous cost to health care workers. I want to ask the population now, as we prepare for the second and third waves— which will come— to partner with the Government,” Deyalsingh said, adding that the numbers the country sees with its second and third waves would be up to the population.

“We have to make some sacrifices, it’s difficult, stay home, save a life. The life you save if you stay home might be your parents’ lives, your grandmother’s, your grandfather’s or your children,” he said.

Physical system capacity

Deyalsingh up to last week stated that while T&T was in a “good place” with regard to the COVID-19 infection rate, large numbers of infections would overwhelm the local health system.

The Health Minister reminded that the coming fortnight was crucial to “flattening the curve” of infections locally and, in encouraging people to stay indoors, said this country’s physical capacity included 838 beds in total in the public system.

There are currently 230 beds at Couva Hospital; 50 at Augustus Long Hospital in Pointe-a-Pierre; 100 at Caura Chest Hospital; 94 at Arima Hospital; 50 at Tacarigua (which will be among several convalescent centres); 30 at Sangre Grande Hospital; 96 at The University of the West Indies campus in Debe; 13 at Princess Elizabeth Centre, Woodbrook; 60 at the hotel at the National Academy for the Performing Arts (NAPA); 40 at Camp Balandra; and 75 in Tobago.

Hospitals usually consider themselves as having reached capacity when 80 to 90 per cent of beds are occupied but Deyalsingh said authorities have reduced this to 75 per cent, to prevent overcrowding.

This ensures a safer space for healthcare workers, he said.

He noted that in Tobago, no beds were occupied by COVID-19 patients at this time; 41 beds or 18 per cent of capacity was occupied at Couva; and also 18 per cent or 18 beds at Caura.

Noting again preparations to battle possible second and third waves of the coronavirus locally, Deyalsingh emphasised that much of this depended on the young men who were bent on being irresponsible.

Deyalsingh also last week announced that Government was readying to distribute 10,000 cloth face masks through the Foundation for the Enhancement & Enrichment of Life (FEEL). He said yesterday the masks will be ready to go out this week but advised that, in the meantime, an “old T-shirt” could work.

The Minister said he has used an old T-shirt that was ripped and folded into a double layer as a face mask and perhaps people could try this method while awaiting their masks.

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