Covid19 claimed its first victim in this country on Wednesday.
The patient was reported to have been an elderly man with a pre-existing condition.
Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh confirmed the death in a statement on Wednesday night. Unconfirmed stories about the death had been circulating on social media since the afternoon.
Reporters asked Deyalsingh about them as he emerged from Parliament earlier, but he refused to comment at that time.
Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar announced the death in a statement issued before the official one. She said the patient had died at the Couva hospital.
Deyalsingh said he delayed releasing the statement to allow the patient’s family to deal with the news. He did not name the man or give further details.
“While this is a sad moment for all of us,” he said, “we can only imagine how difficult this must be for the family. I urge everyone to take a humanistic approach and respect patient confidentiality and the family’s right to privacy at this time. Please allow them to mourn in peace.”
Deyalsingh thanked the medical team who cared for the patient and who “acted professionally and provided the highest level of care to this patient, and continues to do so for all other patients.”
He asked the public to remain calm and continue practising the recommendations of the Ministry of Health on personal hygiene and social distancing.
Deyalsingh ended his statement, “I assure you all that, together, we do have the power to overcome this health challenge.”
Up to Wednesday night TT had 60 confirmed cases of the virus.
Calls to Deyalsingh and Chief Medical Officer Dr Roshan Parasram last night went unanswered.
In her release Persad-Bissessar called on the government to impose a nationwide shutdown of all non-essential services and businesses for 14 days.
A name and address purported to be those of the patient had been spread on social media for several hours before the official announcement.