County Medical Officer of Health for County Caroni Dr Jeanine St Bernard said one of the issues which has led to a spike in the area is people not wearing their masks at work.
Bernard was speaking at the Ministry of Health’s virtual press conference on Wednesday.
She said the information received from contact tracing personnel in the area showed covid19 protocols have relaxed among office staff.
She said people have admitted that because they are comfortable with their co-workers, they take off their masks when they get to work and only put them back on at the end of the day when they are leaving.
“This is a dangerous practice,” she said. “We do have low numbers at this time, which suggest we are doing well as a nation, but we need to continue following protocols.”
She said if people feel uncomfortable in their masks all day, they should find a space with no people or go outside before removing their masks.
County Caroni has been experiencing a spike in covid19 cases in recent weeks. For March, there have been 26 cases in the area, the second highest number for any area in the country currently.
As of Wednesday, Caroni had had one new case and one discharge. Of the cases, ten are symptomatic and 16 asymptomatic.
At the beginning of February, she said, the county had 44 cases, and by the end of February there were 25. Clusters of cases include couples, parent and child groups, and individual cases as well.
She said other contributing factors to the spike in cases in the area include gatherings, parties, and other functions where people are eating and drinking without physical distancing.
She said it usually takes some deeper contact tracing and investigating for patients to admit they attended a function or a party. She said although people may be hesitant to come forward and admit to this, it is important in tracking the spread of the virus. “The significance of coming forward is you may save a life.”
While many people have been adhering to the ministry’s guidelines, she pointed out, there are still a select few who are not wearing their masks, and many who are, do not wear them properly.
“Masks only work if you wear them well. When we wear masks, we still need to social distance. They work together.”
She said when it comes to the selection of masks, given the number of options available, it comes down to personal responsibility. “The public would have to make the choice to purchase or not purchase based on suitability to prevent covid19.”
She said the masks which are acceptable include surgical masks, those that fit snugly on the face, masks made of breathable fabric such as cotton, tightly woven masks, and masks made with two layers.