THE DISCHARGE of the last covid19 patient is a milestone. We must work to ensure, however, that it remains so in the face of the dangers still around us.
Thursday’s removal from the Caura Hospital of the 108th covid19 patient came just three months after the first case was recorded. Yet we must not forget that before we got to this point, eight lives were tragically lost. Amid all the focus on statistics, the sobering reality of each and every one of these deaths is something we cannot afford to lose sight of.
As we today pause and, perhaps, reassess our position, it is worth taking a moment to once more express condolences to the bereaved. And to pay tribute to the healthcare workers and state officials who have been at the forefront in managing our country’s response. They include technocrats at the Ministry of Health and officials such as Chief Medical Officer Roshan Parasram and his team.
Luckily for the people of TT, their timely advice has formed the centrepiece of government policy. Not so in some countries, such as the US and in Latin America, where delays in acting, particularly in the earliest days, resulted in even greater loss of life.
But as the lockdown restrictions continued to be eased this week, with the manufacturing sector cautiously resuming activities on the very day the last patient was discharged, it is worth keeping in mind that we are surrounded by countries that have not been as fortunate as we are.
On Wednesday, Latin America surpassed the US and Europe in the number of new daily coronavirus infections, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). In neighbouring Venezuela, there have been 824 confirmed cases, with ten deaths, according to the WHO. When we consider Venezuela’s near 30 million population and the problems facing the country’s healthcare system and society, it is more than possible this is under-reported.
Whatever the case, the situation in neighbouring Brazil appears dire. That country has emerged as the new global epicentre of the pandemic. With more than 300,000 confirmed cases and more than 20,000 deaths, it is on course to surpass Russia as the nation having the second-largest number of cases in the world, behind only the US.
President Jair Bolsonaro’s approach to the outbreak has been severely criticised, with his own health ministers resigning. Hospitals are also under pressure in Mexico, Peru, and Chile, which has a high rate of testing. There have also been cases in Guyana, Suriname, and French Guiana.
Interception of a vessel carrying Venezuelans this week has rightly triggered serious action from the State, particularly as the situation in Latin America gives you an indication of what could happen here if our border controls are flouted.
Therefore, we should acknowledge this milestone, but remain on the lockout.