Despite a drop in the national case load that has allowed for the accelerated phased reopening of the country’s ecomony, Covid-19 remains a threat.
This according to Minister of Health Terrance Deyalsingh who told members of the media during a virtual media conference on Monday that while the Government continues to accept persons into the country’s borders, virus numbers and deaths worldwide continue to mount.
He spoke of case 117, which came after more than a month with no new cases being recorded in the country. He said that the case came from a family of three that was repatriated last week via an air ambulance from Houston. The family was immediately quarantined upon arrival and tested for the virus. The case was reported to the Ministry on Saturday afternoon following the Prime Minister’s national address concerning phase three of reopening, scheduled to begin on Monday morning.
“As announced by the Prime Minister on Saturday 30, we have an early start to phase three of the reopening of the economy. On Saturday the numbers for Trinidad and Tobago stood at 116 and those were fairly static for about a month I believe. After the Honorable Prime Minister made his announcement, we did get word at around 5.p.m. or 5.30 .p.m. that on Saturday afternoon that we did have one more case, which luckily was an imported case,” he said.
He added that as the case was imported, it would not affect the status of the economic reopening as set out by the Prime Minister.
Deyalsingh said that the imported case reflected the ease at which the virus can re-enter the country and affect many. As the total global caseload today surpassed 6 million, he said this number could easily account for the entire population of the Caricom region. The number of total deaths he said, was five times more than the population of Tobago.
“Whenever we speak at these press conferences, we give the global figure. We give the global figure to remind citizens that Trinidad and Tobago is still surrounded by coronavirus. I know that many citizens feel that the threat has passed but with this latest imported case it should reinforce in the minds of citizens that the threat has not really passed.”
“Where are we in the world today? 6,302,150 that is the population of Caricom. It is like having the whole of Caricom, every man, woman, child, Prime Minister, nurse, doctor, in the Caricom region infected. That is the number. The number of deaths is 374 554. In the Trinidad and Tobago setting, that is about five times the population of Tobago. It is probably the entire southern part of the country’s population or the entire East/West corridor have died,” he said.
He said that as the Government was prepared to accept more stranded nationals from across the globe, including cruise ship workers and UWI students, care needs to be executed in the way repatriation is managed. While he said the parallel healthcare, system has a significant capacity, the threat of transmission remains one to be considered.
“As we accept more and more people into our territory in a very measured way, I think what happened on Saturday afternoon speaks volumes to the careful way we have been managing having our citizens come back into the country. There was a call by one ill-informed person to bring in 1,000 people because we have 1,000 beds in the parallel healthcare system. I think we have exploded that theory. That is why we always emphasize at these press conferences; the virus is around us.
“Yes, Trinidad and Tobago have done an excellent job but the threat is out there and the threat is still real. And as we bring in more people from different sources, whether it's from the University of the West Indies, the cruise ship employees, the people from Venezuela, the people from Guyana. As we bring in people in this measured way. It is this measured reintroduction of people into Trinidad and Tobago that will save us. That one case we got on Saturday should remind us that you simply can’t flip a switch, whether it's for the economy or whether it's for reentry into Trinidad and Tobago, it has to be a gradual, well thought out and measured process,” he said.