The nation sank deeper into the grip of the covid19 pandemic on Wednesday as the Ministry of Health reported 11 more people dead from the virus (a new daily high) and a whopping 615 more infected over a previous five-day period from Friday last to Tuesday May 11.
This reflects the worst daily report of both deaths and new infections since records of the pandemic began last year March. It eclipsed the previous grim record, last Sunday of nine deaths reported in a day, plus last Saturday’s hitherto record rate of infections of 402 people.
Among the recently deceased were sisters Georgette Rawlins and Karen Rawlins, the former an employee of the University of the West Indies (UWI), St Augustine whose staff, students and alumni mourned her passing.
So far this month as of May 12, some 66 people have died of covid19, with 3,593 people getting infected.
The ministry’s website gave additional information on the latest victims which showed a continuation of the trend of deaths among not only the elderly but an almost equal number of individuals who were middle-aged (45-65) and young. Six victims were elderly, while five were not.
In fact, one victim was a young woman with no pre-existing comorbidities that could have made her more vulnerable to the virus.
The ministry said, “The persons were three elderly males, three elderly females, two middle aged males and one middle aged female, all with co-morbidities.” The other victims were “one middle aged female and one young adult female without comorbidities.”
66 DEATHS IN MAY...SO FAR
Since last year March up to Wednesday, some 235 people have died of covid19, with 66 deaths being recorded in the first 12 days of May alone.
The total number of people infected is 14,417, of whom 9,594 have recovered. Some 343 patients are now in hospital. Some 82 people are in step-down facilities, 439 are in State quarantine facilities and 3,548 are at home in self-isolation.
The dashboard said some 148,770 people have been tested for the virus, including 69,456 people at private facilities. So far some 60,585 people have been vaccinated, with 1,179 being fully inoculated with a second dose of vaccine.
The dashboard was accompanied by a statement explaining the latest high rate, saying some of the infections reported on Wednesday could have been carry-overs from the weekend which were not reported on Monday when only 99 new infections were reported.
“The 615 positive cases reported today, Wednesday 12th May, 2021, reflects samples taken during a five day period ( Friday 7th May, 2021 to Tuesday 11th May, 2021) and not the last 24 hours.
“While the normal reporting time frame covers samples taken within 2-3 days, the substantial increase in the positive cases, and the resulting number of samples collected and processed at testing sites throughout the country, has affected the reporting time line in this instance.”
The ministry said the 99 cases reported on Monday may have been due to the normal weekend closure of some testing sites and some health facilities where swabbing takes place. However the ministry issued a warning.
“Thus, it should be underscored that the reported positive cases reflect a high percentage of infection within the population. The cases tested reflected a positivity rate in excess of 40 per cent, which is a cause for significant concern.
On Wednesday, a statement on Facebook by the Department of Creative and Festival Arts (DCFA) of UWI, St Augustine, mourned the passing of administrative employee Georgette Rawlins and her sister Karen Rawlins.
“The DCFA joins in with the University Community in expressing our deepest condolences to the Rawlins family on the untimely passing of Georgette and her sister Karen.
“Georgette, a consummate creative, worked with the Arts In Action team then with the DCFA as a full time staff member at the Gordon Street Office before moving on to her substantive post at UWI Admissions. We pray for strength, comfort and grace for the family at this difficult time.”
Tributes flowed to Georgette on the DFCA time line. One woman said, “Oh my gosh! She was so helpful in UWI.” Another woman said, “My heartfelt condolences to her family at this time. She was the nicest person to meet at the front desk in admin. Such a beautiful person.” Those paying tribute included actors Michael Cherrie and Penelope Spencer.
In a Facebook post, a family member identified as Krys Leisel said the two had died from covid19. “We regret to inform all our friends and family that our two older sisters Georgette Rawlins and Karen Rawlins succumbed to covid-related illnesses. We thank you for all the well wishes and condolences. We ask that everyone just keep us in your prayers.”
Newsday sent a text message to Krys Leisel who thanked us for our concern but said the family was not yet speaking to the media and asked that their privacy be respected. UWI principal Prof Brian Copeland expressed his sympathies in a text to Newsday.
“The campus community was deeply saddened to learn that a member of staff has passed away due to the covid19 virus. I offer my deepest condolences to the family of the deceased and to all those families dealing with loss due to the pandemic.
“In addition to the fact that the campus moved to fully remote work on May 4, all OSHE precautions continue to be followed by the campus covid19 response team. We are supporting the staff member’s colleagues and family through this difficult time. We urge everyone to please be safe.”
Newsday was unable to verify claims made on social media that the two sisters had been warded at Couva Hospital. North Central Regional Health Authority (NCRHA) CEO Davlin Thomas promised Newsday to check on it but up to press time Newsday had not got any such confirmation.