Principal Medical Officer Dr Maryam Abdool-Richards said the recent four-day technical visit to Tobago focused on increasing the parallel health care capacity on the island in preparation for the delta variant.
She urged people in Tobago to get vaccinated to reduce the need for hospitalisation.
Speaking at the Health Ministry’s virtual covid19 media conference on Monday, Richards said the visit by a three-member team of specialists was one of technical co-operation between the ministry, the Tobago Regional Health Authority (TRHA) and the Tobago House of Assembly (THA).
“There are some concerns with respect to Tobago. It is a smaller (island), the capacity would have been less given the small population and the small size, and the team would have worked with the officers of the THA and the TRHA to really look at mitigating and resolving risk.
"I can confirm that plans are currently in place to increase the ICU and HDU capacity in preparation for the delta variant.
She said the number of ward-level beds was being increased, as well as improvements in the human resource function and operational efficiency.
"Just like Trinidad, Tobago has a limited capacity and elasticity, and resources cannot be infinitely allocated.”
There have been 79 deaths due to the virus in Tobago so far, and there are 436 active cases. There are 28 patients in state isolation, 405 in home isolation and three in ICU in Tobago.
Although accounting for around four per cent of the national population, Tobago has suffered almost 11 per cent of the national covid19 cases.
Abdool-Richards said there were 352 patients in the parallel health care facility, with 279 in nine hospitals and 73 in seven step-down facilities. She said there has been a consistent trend of a 3:1 ratio, where three times as many patients are severely and critically ill as opposed to recovering patients.
She said the overall occupancy of the parallel healthcare system was at 34 per cent, with only the Augustus Long Hospital being over 75 per cent.
“The seven step-down facilities are all under 75 per cent. Ward occupancy is at 32 per cent, meaning that three out of ten beds are currently occupied. ICU occupancy is at 66 per cent, with an average over the last month of 80 per cent, and HDU occupancy is at 38 per cent, with an average over the last month of 50 per cent.
"At 8 am every morning there has been a minimal number of people needing admission from the Accident and Emergency departments into the parallel healthcare facility, and this is a good indicator. This morning there was one patient at the ERHA, one at the SWRHA, three patients at the NWRHA, and three at the NCRHA.”
Abdool-Richards said for people who had had adverse reactions to the first dose of a vaccine, the decision as to whether they would be given the second dose was done on a case-by-case basis by a clinical team.
She said the seven people who had been detected as having the delta variant had all fully recovered.