Terrence deyalsingh

Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh.

As deaths continue to rise in Trinidad and Tobago in this third wave of Covid-19, Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh said yesterday, “Our morgues at this point in time are not over-full or overflowing. I got some reports which I am crunching now, but the issue is more people are dying. The issue is that we have been advising the country since August of this year that the Delta variant is coming and will lead to more deaths if we don’t practise the three Ws (wash your hands, watch your distance and wear your masks) and get vaccinated. We have been urging, appealing, begging, imploring of people to get vaccinated.”

He was speaking at the Covid-19 virtual news conference in response to a question on the status of morgues in the country given the high level of deaths.

There have been 313 Covid-19 deaths for the month of November.

Deyalsingh added contingency plans are ‘firmly in place’.

“Since May of this year, we have been meeting with the president of the funeral association, Mr Belgrove, to do just that and Mr Belgrove is liaising with our Chief Public Health Inspector under the office of the Chief Medical Officer (CMO) and my direction to come up with contingency plans.

“The contingency plans are in place with Mr Belgrove of the association that deals with funeral homes and that is firmly in place,” he added.

Meanwhile, Association of Funeral Professionals of Trinidad and Tobago (AFPTT) president Keith Belgrove yesterday pleaded with Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi to implement legislation guiding owning and operating a funeral home amid a sudden increase in fly-by-night funeral homes throughout the country, some operating out of private residences.

Belgrove said, “Recently two funeral homes opened in a residential house up in Maloney. You know what was their refrigeration? A freezer from Courts or somewhere. Now what standards are these? So, Attorney General we need your help. We’ve been talking for two years now, Attorney General, and we desperately need regulations.

“Attorney General, funeral service needs your help. We need to become structured. We need to have the regulations to say what is the educational standards to enter this business and to say what are the minimum requirements.”

Questioning how these new funeral homes are operating, Belgrove also accused many of them to be touting for clients at the hospitals and offering low prices to bereaved relatives.

He said, “When we consider what happens every day at the nation’s hospitals where agents of funeral homes marketing themselves… and the prices drop drastically, the quality of delivery falls and now you’re dealing with people who don’t understand the profession or the business they are endeavouring to operate and as such what does the country get? What is the risk to the country?”

“They have the minimum standards but what goes into a funeral home? How are we going to be treating the clients? What about the integrity that we bring to the clients as far as our invoicing and our billing strategies?” he asked.

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Twenty-six additional Covid-19 deaths reported yesterday took the death toll for the first five days of December past 100.

The 26 deaths increased fatalities this month to 104. The death toll since the start of the pandemic in Trinidad and Tobago is now 2,262.

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