The Chief Medical Officer, Dr Roshan Parasram, has two patients under investigation, cases 139 and 141. Case 141 is the child of an employee at the West Mall branch of Republic Bank.
Both cases triggered what the Health Minister described as “robust” contact tracing as well as immediate sanitisation of potentially exposed public spaces.
In recent weeks there has been an increasingly careless attitude toward the three proven limiters of covid19 spread: social distancing, sanitising or washing of hands, and the proper use of masks in public.
On Friday, the CMO expressed apparent frustration at the lapses in these basic protections.
After long weeks in lockdown and a subsequent relaxation of restrictions, a lack of concern has wormed its way into the general population.
These new cases are therefore especially worrisome.
Until now, current cases have largely been imported, but Case 139 has no recent travel history.
Case 141 is a warning that despite greater resistance to the novel coronavirus, children have no special immunity.
New questions arise about the upcoming in-person school term. Schools are not only populated by children. And they are not designed to accommodate the concept of social distancing.
In fact, the school system is an efficient vector for transmission both in schools themselves and among the families of children and teachers potentially exposed to covid19.
Dr Parasram has a significant challenge before him in delivering details about these troubling new cases.
First, he must ensure that the public understands how the infections might have occurred, to help stem the rise of conspiracy theories and quell potential panic.
Then, he must engage the recent surge in cases to deliver once more clear and unequivocal advice on respecting existing protocols for social distancing, public mask-wearing and diligent hand-washing and sanitising in public.
Patient 139 had flu-like symptoms, but defied the baseline protocol – to remain at home – and visited multiple locations. Eight family members were exposed to infection, each of whom has their own contact trails.
Two Pennywise stores and several supermarkets have had to be closed and sanitised in the past few days.
Five new cases were identified on Saturday as a result of primary exposure to a known infected patient.
A June 1 WHO study of physical distancing, face masks and eye protection, among others, advises wider use of these measures, particularly social distancing of two metres, and masks made of suitable materials. These are simple, only slightly inconvenient steps, but they may stem the spread of the virus.
The developments of the last few days should serve as a reminder to the people of TT to renew or continue their attempts to play their part and to help save lives and livelihoods – possibly including their own.