Deputy political leader of the Progressive Democratic Patriots (PDP) Faith BYisrael is questioning whether Tobago has the capacity to care for vulnerable covid19 patients amid the surge in cases.
The island recorded its seventh covid19-related death on Tuesday. In a statement, the Division of Health, Wellness and Family Development said the patient was a 75-year-old woman with comorbidities.
Tobago also registered a record-high 42 new covid19 cases and 132 active cases. Five people have been discharged. The division said of the 5,456 samples that have been submitted to the Tobago Regional Health Authority and other local sites for testing, 430 have been positive.
BYisrael extended condolences to the family, noting that, “It is a sad day on the island.”
She said the island needs to critically analyse the number of covid19 beds available, The Health Secretary recently announced the addition of 40 more beds to the island's capacity.
BYisrael questioned whether these beds are for patients who are seriously ill.
“We currently, I understand, have a policy of housing well (patients) – meaning people who are asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic – within the healthcare system in Tobago, but we have to ask ourselves, when the secretary with responsibility for health speaks about number of beds on the island, do those bed include high dependency unit beds and intensive care unit beds?
"Because we would now recognise that with over 130 or so individuals being positive for covid19 on the island, we would now have a higher number of people who need high dependency unit care or critical care.”
BYisrael said the island had ample time to prepare for such an outbreak.
“If it is not ready, we need to ask ourselves why is that the case? We had over a year to prepare for this, and as the alternative secretary with responsibility for health, I have been speaking publicly since early 2020 about all of the components of the system that would be required for us to critically deal with this. We have to ask ourselves now: why are we in this position in May 2021, instead of being prepared?”
She said ascertaining the number of primary and secondary contacts from the 42 new cases is priority.
She asked whether the office of the County Medical Officer of Health has the capacity to quickly reach out to these contacts, provide the necessary instructions and test.
“We know that the primary contacts would need to be tested immediately – so that is a critical component of the system that needs to be looked at."
BYisrael called for more information on the efficiency of the covid19 testing procedure.
“We need to question the actual dates that these individuals were swabbed, comparing that to the date when we get back the results. If it is a short period – meaning within a day or two – then this is a process that can be managed.
"If the date between swabbing and receiving the results, though, is greater than a couple days, then we have to ask ourselves whether our testing systems have failed or whether it is keeping up with our needs in Tobago and whether Tobago needs to think critically about expanding the kind of testing that we are doing as it relates to covid19 on the island.”