JUST one week before more restrictions are relaxed, six new Covid-19 cases have been recorded in Trinidad and Tobago.
All six are from the group of 306 people who are quarantined on board the Royal Caribbean Enchantment of the Seas cruise ship.
This brings the number of positive cases recorded in T&T to 123.
And there may be an additional case as a 63-year-old woman from the group of 29 who returned from Venezuela tested positive on Friday.
However, this could be a false positive result so she was re-tested and those results will be determined by the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA).
The Express learnt that Health officials immediately mobilised on Saturday night when the first positive case from the ship became known.
The Trinidad and Tobago Coast Guard used one of its vessels to take the patient from the ship.
He was transported to Staubles Bay, Chaguaramas, and then via ambulance to the Caura Hospital.
The five other Covid-positive cases from the cruise ship were removed from the vessel yesterday and also taken to the Caura Hospital. Therefore, all six Covid-positive cases will be treated at the Caura facility.
The Express was told that all remaining people on the cruise ship are now confined to their rooms.
One cruise ship worker shared what happened when the announcement was made of the first positive case from the ship.
“Everyone was prepared for any disappointment. The captain made an announcement. The person was taken off the ship last night (Saturday). Everyone else remains isolated in our rooms.”
The Health Ministry in its 6 p.m. update yesterday confirmed the six additional Covid cases.
It stated that all six were transferred to Caura Hospital and all other cruise ship crew members remain quarantined on the vessel, to eliminate risk of local transmission to Trinidad and Tobago.
The majority of Covid cases in T&T so far have all been imported.
Last Friday, the group of 29 were all tested in Venezuela.
The 63-year-old woman who tested positive and her two relatives were taken to the Couva Hospital.
Only if CARPHA confirms her as positive then her case will be added to the statistics.
The majority of the group are at the Sangre Grande facility while some are at the Home of Football in Couva.
Those at the Home of Football complained yesterday that there was no water at the facility.
This had happened previously because of a water pump issue.
The six new Covid-positive cases come on the heels of Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh saying on Saturday that the parallel healthcare system set up to deal specifically with Covid-19 cases will be at full capacity for at least the next two weeks.
Government has allowed the return of more than 700 Trinidad and Tobago nationals who are all subject to 14-day State quarantine.
Last Friday, 336 nationals returned, including the 306 crew members aboard the Enchantment of the Seas cruise ship and 29 nationals who returned from Venezuela.
A further 370 citizens are expected to return within the next three days, including students from The University of the West Indies’ (The UWI) campuses in Mona, Jamaica, and Cave Hill, Barbados.
Some students are expected to return from Barbados today.
Students in Barbados are scheduled to depart on a Caribbean Airlines plane at 1.35 p.m.
They are expected to arrive at Piarco International Airport at 2.40 p.m.
Each student had to pay a total of $3,632 for their airline ticket from Barbados.
All these students are expected to go into State quarantine upon arrival.
On Saturday, Deyalsingh said the parallel healthcare system cannot accommodate any more returnees until this batch is cleared and allowed to leave.
This would normally take two weeks.
Deyalsingh said if a positive test occurs at a facility, that facility cannot be used for a further two weeks while it is being sanitised and “aired out”, making it unusable for at least a month.
This means that with the Caura Hospital now housing six Covid-positive patients it will take some time before this facility can be used to quarantine others.
Dr Maryam Abdool-Richards, acting principal medical officer in charge of institutions, has said the parallel healthcare system has treated and managed some 957 people since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic.