TRINIDAD and Tobago reached a grim and unwanted record of nine deaths in one day from the covid19 virus.
The previous record of eight deaths was recorded last Sunday. These nine fatalities, revealed in the Ministry of Health’s daily national covid19 updates, pushes the death toll for May to 55, as of Tuesday, and the country’s overall death toll to 224.
The release also stated that 348 new infections were recorded on Tuesday, the third highest figure in a 24-hour reporting cycle for this country, with the second highest being 399, recorded on May 5, and the record highest being 402, recorded last Saturday.
The ministry stated that among the latest deaths were three elderly men, three elderly women and one middle-aged woman with comorbidities. The last two were a middle-aged man and woman who did not have any comorbidities.
The total active positive cases as of Tuesday afternoon stood at 4,078 and there was also 119 new recovered patients, bringing the total number to 9,500.
As of Tuesday, 138 people were warded at the Couva Multitraining facility with 15 in the Intensive Care Unit and 48 in the High Dependency Unit.
HERD IMMUNITY BY YEAR END...IF
Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh said the Opposition has a major role to play in how soon TT can achieve herd immunity against the covid19 virus. He said if Opposition members stop spreading propaganda about the vaccines, herd immunity could happen by the end of the year.
He was responding to urgent questions in the Senate on Tuesday morning.
Opposition senator Wade Mark asked, “Given the ongoing spike in the number of positive covid19 cases and this country’s goal of controlling the virus through herd immunity, what is the time frame within which same will be achieved?”
Deyalsingh reminded everyone herd immunity requires 60-70 per cent of a country’s population to be vaccinated.
“That means about 600,000-700,000 persons. I took a note to Cabinet to do just that.”
But he said there are three variables required to achieve this.
“One – availability of vaccines, which we must have in commercial quantities – large quantities that we are currently working on to good effect.
“Two – public confidence in the vaccines.
“And three – we need to get the UNC to stop undermining the government’s vaccination plan. That is the most important component to reach herd immunity. If the UNC, as led by the honourable Kamla Persad-Bissessar and her spokespersons, keeps on undermining faith in the vaccines, we will not achieve it.
“So this is where we all need to come together again and provide leadership. However, if the Opposition works with us, we can administer 700,000 vaccines in this country to achieve herd immunity in about six to seven months.”
Mark muttered, “I won’t respond to that nonsense.”
‘STOP THE THEATRICS’
Over the weekend, Opposition MP Dr Roodal Moonilal said government was using the public as “guinea pigs” for the Sinopharm vaccine from China. The Chinese Government has donated 100,000 doses of the Sinopharm vaccine to TT and Finance Minister Colm Imbert said on Monday that Government will be buying more of these vaccines from China.
During the Senate sitting, Mark asked if the government had contacted companies other than Sinopharm to secure vaccines for TT.
Deyalsingh reminded him that government was “in talks” with Pfizer, Moderna and the Africa Medical Supplies Platform.
To date, TT has received 67,200 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine through Covax, 2,000 from Barbados and 40,000 from India. As of 4 pm on Tuesday, 60,487 people had been vaccinated in TT.
Persad-Bissessar on her Facebook page on Tuesday, called on Deyalsingh to end his “theatrics” and do his job or step aside.
She described Deyalsingh’s "rants" – in the face of valid questions being asked on the safety of vaccines being sought – as “totally irresponsible,” especially at a time when the nation needs stable leadership to prevail through the pandemic.
It was unbecoming, she said, that Deyalsingh would resort to “divisive political games” rather than answer valid questions on the safety of some vaccines which were raised in numerous reports in the international media.
She also said in her Facebook post that for 14 months, Deyalsingh and the Prime Minister bungled the management of the covid19 crisis.
“It is a direct result of his failure to heed the CMO’s warning regarding the spike before Easter, and his leader’s invitation to the population to go to Tobago, as well as their inability to secure our borders, that we are in the dire situation we are in today,” Persad-Bissessar said.
She added that the only way to deal with this health crisis was to acquire enough vaccines and have a comprehensive vaccination programme. She called on Government to work with all stakeholders, pointing out that Deyalsingh himself admitted they do not have all the answers.
“End the divisive politics and let us work together as the welfare of our people depend on it,” she urged.
Reporting by NARISSA FRASER and SHANE SUPERVILLE