There have yet been no confirmed cases of the new strains of the Covid-19 virus in Trinidad and Tobago, but that does not mean they are not already circulating.

Scientists have confirmed two new strains of the virus, one which is said to have originated in the United Kingdom and the other ori­ginating out of South Africa.

The UK variant has been found in about 50 countries, and as of yesterday, the South African variant had been confirmed to have spread to ten countries.

Questioned on efforts to detect the strains in T&T yesterday, at the virtual news conference held by the Ministry of Health, epidemiologist Dr Avery Hinds said screening and monitoring are ongoing.

He said the current PCR (polymerase chain reaction) tests used to detect Covid-19 are capable of detecting any strain of the virus.

“The PCR testing that we do have is able to detect Covid-19, and whether it’s the old or the new strain, the PCR testing is still able to do that detection because it is identifying parts of the DNA that are still identifiable using the primers and the materials that already exist,” he said. “So that has not impaired the ability of the test to detect the virus, even if it is the new strain.”

Hinds said a The University of the West Indies research team has been monitoring and testing samples for the new strains, but had up to yesterday not discovered any cases of either the UK variant or the South African variant in T&T.

“We are doing our utmost to prevent the introduction of the new strain of virus that can present asymptomatically,” he said.

Repatriated people tested for new strains 

Health Minister Terrence Deyal­singh explained that not all samples are tested for the new strains, and samples from repatriated nationals are being tested for the new strains at this time.

“What we do under the direction of Carpha is pick a certain number of samples, not from the general population resident in Trinidad and Tobago but samples with a certain viral load, with a certain threshold of repatriated persons who have tested positive.

“So in order to zero in on whether the South African variant or the UK variant is here, you don’t test your resident population. You take samples of your repatriated individuals that have a certain threshold of viral load. Those samples are sent to Carpha, that is the collection point for Caricom, and then sent to UWI. It was via that process that UWI St Augustine, working in tandem with Carpha, was able to identify a couple of weeks ago that Jamaica did in fact have the strains.”

Deyalsingh however said the negative results so far do not mean the new strains are not in T&T.

“It is quite possible that it is is quite possible. But it is a further screen to alert us as to whether these new variants have in fact been picked up from our repa­triated individuals.”


SHOCKED and flabbergasted.

That is how North Central Regional Health Authority (NCRHA) chief executive officer Davlin Thomas felt whilst reading the Sunday Express lead story yesterday in which outpatients related their agony of having to wait long periods for health care at the Eric Williams Medical Sciences Complex, Mt Hope.

Most outpatients interviewed by the Express over the last few weeks expressed continued frustration over postponements of appointments.

A Santa Flora man was chased and shot dead in the middle of the roadway yesterday.

He was identified as Trevor Hospedales.

Police said 47-year-old Hospedales was sitting on the roadside with his stepson, a Venezuelan national, when a man walked up to them at around midday.

Dear children of Angelys Marelis Boada Munoz. If you ever make it to Trinidad, your mama is buried at the Freeport Public Cemetery, near where she lived, worked, and died.

It is an unmarked grave, but we know the spot. And we will take you there.

Just so you know, your mother got dignified last rites, attended by five friends, two gravediggers, the driver of the hearse, and a lawyer who paid the funeral expenses.

It took 26 days for “Angel” to get that funeral last Saturday.

Heavy rainfall has for years led to flood waters over-topping the Lothians Bridge at Inverness Road, Borde Narve, Princes Town.

However, with four major Government bodies denying claim of jurisdiction over the area, residents are left bemused. The bridge has been disowned.

Videos sent to the Express by concerned residents show a river where the road crosses, during heavy rainfall.

FRIDAY marked one year since Dr Rudradeva Sharma lost his life in a road traffic accident after he and one of his colleagues who worked at the San Fernando General Hospital were robbed and kidnapped minutes after leaving duty at midnight on January 14.

‘I’M fed up.”

These three short words sum up the emotion of patients seeking outpatient services at the Eric Williams Medical Sciences Complex, Mt Hope, while their appointments keep getting pushed back over and over again.

While Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh has showered praises on the parallel healthcare system established due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the primary healthcare system is suffering.