In calling for a greater proportion of the population to become vaccinated, Fyzabad's Member of Parliament Dr Lackram Bodoe questioned the Government's preparedness to deal effectively with the Delta variant in the face of the on-going spike in Covid-19 cases.
Bodoe said, via a press release on Tuesday, that the impending arrival of the Delta variant of the SARS-CoV-2 virus to the shores of Trinidad and Tobago was no secret, and the subsequent surge the country is now experiencing should be no surprise.
"The revelation by Ministry of Health officials that the parallel healthcare system, specifically designed to treat with the COVID-19 pandemic is now bursting at its seams must be worrisome news for our population.
"The headline in today’s Guardian of ‘ICU FULL’ with the report that very few ICU beds remain available to severely ill COVID-19 patients must surely be of concern to healthcare workers and citizens alike. This is especially so in the face of the reopening of many services in the past few weeks, and the reopening of schools yesterday, with increased opportunity for the spread of the virus," Bodoe stated.
He said that doctors have now been placed in the unenviable position of having to ‘play God’, by having to choose who gets an ICU bed and who doesn’t.
"Eighteen months into this pandemic we are now informed that a mere 57 ICU beds are currently available for our Covid patients.
"In view of the billions spent by this Government on the battle against the COVID-19 pandemic, the question must now be asked as to how much of this money went into securing additional ventilators, engaging ICU and HDU nurses, and securing additional resources such as drugs and supplies that are required to provide additional ICU care," he questioned.
The Fyzabad MP stated that the true numbers of people infected in this pandemic continue to elude us because testing was insufficient due to Government’s limited capacity earlier and the delay in approving testing at private institutions.
"The failure of the Minister of Health to allow and facilitate over the counter test kits, which can greatly increase our testing capacity and guide behaviour, remains a mystery.
"So the burning question is this; how prepared is the Government to deal with this latest surge of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, especially with the increased numbers of persons infected with the Delta variant?"
He noted that the country stands at a critical juncture in the battle against this deadly pandemic, a battle which has to be fought in the hospitals, to save lives, and also in the field, to prevent spread of the virus.
"This battle has to be stepped up in our hospitals, by providing the best care available to ill citizens. I call upon the Government to ensure that more is done to increase our ICU capacity, so as to give our critically ill patients a fighting chance. I urge the Minister to pump more resources into the system to ensure that our hardworking healthcare workers are fully supported to carry out the jobs that they have sworn to do.
"A large number of citizens remain unvaccinated, including unfortunately many who are now occupying ICU beds. The initial delay in procuring vaccines was further compounded by the Government’s ineffective vaccination campaign, providing the opportunity for increased circulation of the virus. I call upon the Government and the Minister of Health to redouble their efforts to identify unvaccinated individuals and reach out to them by way of education and other meaningful strategies to get them on board," Bodoe noted.
He said in the end, a higher proportion of vaccinated individuals may turn out to be the most effective weapon in this battle against the pandemic.