Some 204 people ended up as primary contacts of a COVID-19 positive case who recently visited Tobago.
According to the Chief Medical Officer, Roshan Parasram, a total of 222 primary, secondary and tertiary contacts were listed in connection with this case.
And 204 of those were listed as primary. The patient he said, had visited a hotel in Tobago after being swabbed and tested for the virus.
Speaking at a virtual media conference on Monday, Parasram said that this number is an indication of the potential spread among persons who do not abide by the public health guidelines.
“As you all know there was a particular case that would have gone to a hotel (Tropikist) in Tobago. Out of that one case we have identified 222 primary secondary and tertiary contacts. There are 204 primary contacts of one single case. So just to give you an idea of the potential spread of this virus from one individual who does not abide by the public health guidelines,” he said.
Speaking of the new Public Health regulations which came into effect this morning, he said that all residents should abide by the measures in place. Laws to make wearing a mask mandatory, he said, were in the process of being drafted.
The case in Tobago he said, did not abide by the guidelines in place which asks for those who are ill to stay at home. Instead of heeding medical advice to self-quarantine, he said, the case travelled to Tobago where the positive diagnosis was received. To properly combat the virus, he said, all measures should be used simultaneously.
“We have seen with the case that I described in Tobago that persons are not staying home when they are ill. It increases greatly the risk of transmission of this disease. We ask that the public health guidelines are not viewed in isolation so if you're wearing a mask, you are not saying that you don’t need to sanitize or wash your hands or distance. They are all there to be used as armor to fight the virus together, they are synergistic to each other, meaning that if you do mask wearing plus social distancing, your chance of getting this virus decreases significantly.” he said.
He added that in previous phases of the pandemic, advice was given to those who were swabbed and tested to not leave their homes without having received a negative result. However, it was observed that this oral advice was neglected by some. As a result, he said, the County Medical Officers of Health were now being advised to issue quarantine forms when a patient is swabbed.
He said that a quarantine form would provide legal repercussions for those who breached the order to stay at home.
“Basically, we have seen that we moved from a state of sporadic spread to cluster spread to community spread in a relatively short space of time. So, our protocols in terms of who we swabbed and what advice was given to those individuals has to adapt accordingly. We swab you as a community sample for instance, so you have mild flu like symptoms, you were swabbed, the advice was given to stay at home until you are given a result that is negative. Of course, that advice was not heeded and persons continued to move after being swabbed, after being told by the physicians that they should not have left their homes during that period of time. The advice was self-quarantine. In light of the case we raised and other cases we have found,”
“I have issued a call to all the CMOH’s that all persons who have been swabbed since be issued a quarantine form and been made to sign before. So now instead of giving someone the advice to stay at home there is a quarantine order in place. Of course as you know if you breach the quarantine order, there are certain legal elements that can play in through the TTPS The process has changed as we move further in the continuum of cases We are now at the stage where once you are swabbed you are given the quarantine order which is a legal document to stay at home rather than saying verbally, “Stay at home,” said Parasram.