"IT'S a wake-up call for the nation."
This was the reaction of Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh in response to the grim milestone of TT reaching and crossing the 100 covid19 death mark on Wednesday.
Seven months after recording its first death from the virus, the country marked its 101st fatality on Wednesday according to the ministry's daily 4 pm update. Three more deaths took the toll from 98 to 101.
“I am hoping that all of these deaths, all of these 101 deaths are a wake-up call. We need as a country to take this virus very seriously and adhere to the public health measures we have been talking about for roughly seven to eight months. It’s the only way,” Deyalsingh said as he expressed his condolences to the families of TT's 101 covid19 fatalities.
He also blamed private social gatherings within homes as one of the driving factors behind the struggle to get the infection rate down.
The ministry pointed out that an elderly man, an elderly woman and a young person were the nation's latest fatalities. The ministry also reported 59 new cases on Wednesday which increased the total number of cases to 5,392, while there are 1,459 active cases.
Deyalsingh said, “Now that we have reached the 100th death milestone I think a wake-up call should have happened from the very first death because anyone's death is regrettable. One hundred deaths will resonate with people and I hope that as a country, especially...those who were not taking the virus seriously, should realise that this thing is not to trifle with.”
Minutes after the ministry made the announcement, many took to social media to express their concern and distress at the milestone being passed. Deyalsingh urged the public not to use the increase in deaths as a time for panicking.
“People should never panic, they could be concerned and quite simply, if we all as a country follow the public health guidelines, which are to wear a mask, social distance, proper hygiene and don’t invite people into your homes for any type of celebration, there will be no need for panic.”
He especially pleaded with families who have elderly members to protect from exposure, since "over 90 per cent of our deaths have been elderly people. I am sure of that.”
"We are asking all families to protect the elderly in their homes," the minister continued, "by doing several things: not having functions in your homes, birthday parties, celebrations where you invite people into your homes. That is the main driver of this toll of 100-plus deaths.
“Whilst our death rate as a country is actually one half of the global average, which is good, because we have to put it in the perspective of that, it still means that 100 families are in mourning, 100 families have been traumatised and we keep on urging the population even though our average cases per day is going down. We will still continue to have deaths, especially with the elderly, it’s a global phenomenon.
“Whilst the young will have the virus and get over it, the elderly are the ones who pay the price, because they don’t get over it as quickly. They actually succumb to it.”
As of Wednesday evening, ten patients have been discharged and there have been 64 recovered community cases.
Seventy-five patients are still hospitalised.Fifty patients remain in step-down facilities, 280 in state quarantine and 1,334 in home isolation.
A total of 13,846 samples have been submitted to the Caribbean Public Health Agency, UWI, and other local testing sites.