COVID-19 viral contraction in Trinidad and Tobago has plateaued over the past two months.
This according to Epidemiologist Dr. Avery Hinds who spoke at a clinical update on the COVID-19 virus on Saturday.
Presenting the epidemiological curve via a graph, Dr Hinds noted that there has been a slower reduction in virus cases across September and October when compared to a decrease in between August and September that followed an epidemiological spike in late August.
“The epi-curve as we described takes the number of samples that tested positive and groups and presents them according to the date individuals presented for swabbing. What we are seeing from it is that coming down from the peak in late August we have had a faster decline from late August into early September and then a slower decline across September into October It is sort of a flatline if you look at that line running through the graph. That means that we are sort of plateauing in terms of the number of new people testing positive on a given day. This has its own implications,” he said.
A plateau, he said is indicative of the population habits that are allowing the virus to remain active. As a result, numbers have been reducing at a slower pace than is ideal. To combat this, he said focus needs to be placed on the reduction of the risk of transmission through interactions.
“If we are seeing a plateau, meaning that our numbers are not necessarily going down, they are going down very slowly if all. It means that our behaviour at present in the population is just about keeping the virus bubbling slowly somewhere along the line. What we need to focus on as we enter this phase of trying to eliminate virus transmission, is we really need to focus on risk mitigation and risk reduction in our individual interactions. The only way a virus can pass through one individual to another is if there is a risk involved where an ill person comes into contact with someone who is susceptible,” he said.
As such, he asked that all public health measures such as mask wearing, hygiene, distancing and others be adhered to. Practicing only one of the measures, he said, would not be as effective as combining all. Although none can offer 100 per cent protection, he said, practicing these measures can greatly reduce the risk of contracting and spreading the virus.
“All the practices that we have been encouraging are gauged at intending to reduce that risk. We ask ill people to remain out of circulation. We ask all people, whether they think they 're ill or not to wear their mask when they come into closer contact with other persons. In doing so even if you don’t know that you were carrying the virus because you are asymptomatic you are reducing your risk of expelling the virus particles into the air. We ask that individuals maintain that physical distance of over six feet so that any droplets dispelled from the respiratory system can’t get into another person. We ask that people maintain hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette. Although no one intervention is going to give 100 per cent protection, each intervention adds to your layer of protection until you have had a greater reduction of risk than if you did any one by itself,” said Dr Hinds.