Church, bars, police, soldiers push covid19 surge in Caroni

Limers drink outside Brooklyn Bar, Woodbrook last month.  File photo by Roger Jacob
Limers drink outside Brooklyn Bar, Woodbrook last month. File photo by Roger Jacob

County Medical Officer of Health for County Caroni Dr Jeanine St Bernard said church service, bars, and the protective services have contributed to a surge in covid19 cases in her county.

During the Ministry of Health’s virtual press conference, on Saturday, she said Caroni had 60 cases which led to 900 primary, secondary and tertiary contacts being quarantined.

She related that one person felt ill so went to a medical facility to be tested for covid19, and then went to a church service outside of Caroni. That person’s actions resulted in 15 people contracting covid19 in various counties including Caroni, St George East, and St George West.

St Bernard also expressed concerning about people gathering in the street outside of bars with some of them not wearing masks, while others gathered close together.

“A mask is not a substitute for social distancing so it’s not that if I have on the mask I could gather and be a lot closer to people.”

She said one case resulted in four positive primary contacts, and two positive secondary contacts, with all the people in some households being infected.

She met with the president of the Barkeepers and Operators Association last week to collaborate on the “disturbing trend” in order to reduce the number of cases from that source. And she said she appreciated the level of support of the covid19 protocols and encouraged bar operators to discourage people from gathering around their bars.

“I came away from that meeting very hopeful. I truly appreciated the level of keen interest and support shown at this meeting.”

In Parliament on Friday afternoon, National Security Minister Stuart Young, said three police officers in the Central Division tested positive, which led to 87 officers in quarantine, as well as other police staff members, bring the number of Central Division staff in quarantine to 128.

St Bernard also talked about one police station and an army camp.

She said there were initially 41 primary contacts, 154 secondary contacts, and 51 tertiary contacts, and, from the station, there were six more cases – three primary and three secondary contacts.

“And some of these contacts will not just be household persons but would be officers themselves. And these officers, of course, in having to quarantine these persons, we have not actively reduced our active police population because these officers will now have to be home in quarantine.”

In addition, she said the Health Ministry was in the process of creating a plan for exam students who are covid19 contacts but do not necessarily have the virus.

CSEC and CAPE exams were scheduled to begin in June and there was concern about students missing both their classes and final exams because they have covid19 or are quarantined as a contact.

She is thankful only one student in forms four to six classes is a contact of a positive case and is therefore in quarantine.

She also noted that a few people in some households were declining to be swabbed for the covid19 PCR test, even as they were quarantined for being a contact.

“The disadvantage of not swabbing when you are a primary or secondary contact of a case is that we then miss the fact that you may be positive and therefore we can not contact trace and identify persons who may have been exposed to you, who then need to be quarantined so that they will not then go on to pass on the virus.”


"Church, bars, police, soldiers push covid19 surge in Caroni"

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