THA Secretary of Health, Wellness and Family Development Tracy Davidson-Celestine fears the delta variant of the covid19 virus could have a devastating effect on Tobago if the majority of its population remain unvaccinated.
At the Ministry of Health’s covid19 health briefing on Monday, Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh confirmed local community spread of the delta variant, adding that with only 33 per cent of the population fully vaccinated the country is not in a good place. Deyalsingh said there were now ten people with the Delta variant in TT, but noted the three newest cases had no travel history.
But speaking on Tuesday at the unveiling of a proposed $500 million hotel and property development project for Tobago, Davidson-Celestine said, “I am very fearful of what could happen if our people are not vaccinated. So far, we have had over 70 deaths on the island and that number can be increased overnight if it is that our people are not fully vaccinated.
“So, yes, the Delta variant is here. It is probably in our communities as we speak. But we, as a people, we have to guard ourselves and the only way we can do that is not only with prayers but to ensure that we are vaccinated,” she told reporters at the Magdalena Grand Beach & Golf Resort, Lowlands.
Davidson-Celestine said the division’s community vaccination drive is ongoing.
“We are focusing on the solution, which is to ensure that we get as many persons as possible vaccinated. We have a targeted population of 70 per cent of the island. So far, we are about 56 per cent of the 70 per cent and so we still have another 44 per cent of the targeted population to be vaccinated. The challenge is that it has been an uphill battle because the 44 per cent is the equivalent to about 16,000 more of the population.”
She said the majority of the population should have already been vaccinated.
“I was thinking that when we started off the vaccination exercise and given the fact that all around the world the communication has been that vaccines save lives that for a small island for a small population of 45,000 in terms of adults, we would have been able to vaccinate all of Tobago by now but that has not happened yet.”
Davidson-Celestine said many people are still harbouring fears about the vaccine. “While we push to vaccinate persons, we are also educating them as well because we realise that there are still some fears out there in the communities. And so, we are using our communication approaches to get the message across and, of course, to use the influencers, the church leaders to encourage their supporters to be vaccinated.”
She added, “One of the things that we recognise, at the end of the day, is that we just don’t have the facilities. No country has the facilities to cater for all persons who would become severely ill and so we are trying to prevent that.
“We will add beds, we will add nurses and doctors but at the end of the day there are only so many of those persons that we can add. That is why it is important that our residents be vaccinated.”
Davidson-Celestine also said Tobago has received over $100 million in Government support since the start of the pandemic.
She said $50 million was spent to upgrade their health systems and to pay suppliers and outstanding gratuities for the staff “because you have to treat with levels of motivation because we are in this for the long haul.”
Davidson-Celestine said the island got a further $50 million about two weeks ago to treat with rental and food assistance “and to ensure that our suppliers are well paid so that we can always have a stock of PPEs and the necessary equipment on hand.”