Though it has been ten days since TT reported its last covid19 case, and the number of covid19 warded patients is down to one, Chief Medical Officer Dr Roshan Parasram and Health Minister, Terrence Deyalsingh, will continue to carefully monitor the virus over the next two weeks.
During the ministry's regular virtual media press conference on Tuesday, Parasram said it is critical to pay attention to the impact of the virus, just in case something was missed.
The last case was confirmed on April 26 and while the curve is flattening he is on the lookout for a hidden cluster.
“I have to be pessimistic as possible from where I sit, just to ensure that we are not missing something that’s occurring as a hidden phenomenon. On the surface of it, it seems we are doing well so far with covid19 cases.”
Parasram was responding to a question on the epidemiological status of the coronavirus.
He said over the next 14 days, he will monitor the situation to decide if a hidden cluster had been developing unknown or not.
“We remain listed as sporadic, meaning there’s no cluster or community spread in a major way in terms of (World Health Organization) WHO profile.”
There has been an increase of community surveillance, and within the last three weeks 471 tests were done, which all returned negative. Testing had also been expanded, within the last week, to more health facilities across TT.
Parasram said five private labs with PCR machines were recently inspected for accreditation and for covid19 testing to begin. One of the five withdrew temporarily to “gather and provide more data to make it efficient enough to begin testing.”
Recommendations will be sent to the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) and a decision will be made on which lab would be chosen to begin local testing.
As TT nears the end of its first curve of the pandemic, Deyalsingh said the government and health officials must continue to stick to existing protocols, which have allowed the country to contain the pandemic.
TT was careful of drugs announced as possible treatments for covid19 and will only consider a drug for the virus after it has been scientifically tested and proven effective and safe, he said.
“We didn’t jump on the bandwagon for hydroxychloroquine or interferon until it's proven to be effective. We also didn’t expose TT to faulty tests because we understand the science and we understand protocols, not to be dogmatic but to save all lives.
“We must stick to protocols even if there’s public pressure.”
He added that TT made the right decision to follow CARPHA’s 99.6 per cent accurate standard testing.
Deyalsingh said he is relying on everyone to act responsibly when asked about concerns over large crowds at business places when restrictions are lifted by the Prime Minister,
“Our dynamics are different and we will do everything possible to ensure that when the PM makes the decision, he has all the info to make a calculated, safe decision.
"However, at the end of the day, there is a lot of personal responsibility.”
In the same breath, Deyalsingh took the time to send condolences to the family of Crystal Julien, who died in a car accident on Sunday morning. Police reported the van she was travelling flipped and landed in a ditch along North Coast Road, Maracas.
The mother of four was with a group that police believe was returning home from a party in Las Cuevas around 4 am. Several others were also injured.
“The loss of life and children not having a mother – but that is the type of situation we have to avoid and we can do so if all citizens in TT adopt a sense of personal responsibility moving forward.
“The virus isn’t going to adapt for us, we have to change our behaviour, we have to change our expectation of what our social like is going to be like.
“Things like partying and drinking, these things need to readjust, and we need to see what we want out of life.”
The ministry, in its update sent at 4 pm on Tuesday, said TT still has 116 total covid19 cases and 2,071 samples have been sent to CARPHA for testing so far. One hundred and two recovered patients have been discharged from the State's care for the virus.