Inching toward covid19 control

The news was good at Saturday's press conference to update on the state of Trinidad and Tobago under covid19, but deliberately understated.

There are 16 institutions now available for the parallel health care system, and all the charts and graphs offered demonstrated levelling in all the rising curves that were so terrifying at the beginning of May.

Facilities for patients requiring professional medical care are at 57 per cent occupancy, first doses have been administered to 176,849 people and 39,142 are fully vaccinated.

The country, according to the Prime Minister, is scheduling vaccination to suit both the vaccines they have in hand as well as the projected expiry dates of the doses.

But for all those positives, there were words that weren't said.

There was no more talk about flattening the curve from Dr Avery Hinds or Dr Maryam Abdool-Richards.

The reduction in diagnosed cases was described as "slight declines," improvements in case loads were characterised as "slow."

There seemed to be a palpable fear at the head table that the wrong words might trigger an unwelcome response, leading to dangerous risk-taking that could reverse all the gains the sacrifices of the last few weeks have earned.

For the public, the first relaxation will be a change in curfew hours from next weekend, from seven to nine at night.

Any optimism from the Prime Minister was kept for larger moves planned for the economy and a promise that if the trend in reduced cases continues, the construction sector might be in line to reopen in a week.

The PM also confirmed plans to reopen the country's borders in July if downward trends continue.

But Dr Rowley was also cautiously optimistic about relaxing restrictions, warning that while the government would respond positively to decreasing cases and fewer patients in hospitals, the emphasis would continue to be on reducing opportunities for infection.

That won't be helped by statements that seed fear, uncertainty and doubt.

Partial readings of medical documentation to find points that cultivate worry, circulating unsubstantiated statements by unqualified people and imagining worst-case outcomes for both the vaccinated and unvaccinated do nothing to build public enthusiasm to work with the government to combat infection.

The potential for a slow drift back to normality will depend both on the willingness of the general public to adhere to restrictions and to practise proper hygiene and distancing and on the arrival of vaccines and the rate at which we are able to get more people vaccinated.

One of those parameters we have control over, the other we do not, but both demand focused and committed attention.


"Inching toward covid19 control"

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