Minister of Health Terrence Deyalsingh has said the quality of care in the country’s parallel healthcare system for covid19 patients has not been compromised by the increase in covid19 cases.
Deyalsingh was responding to an oral question inthe Senate on Tuesday posed by Senator Wade Mark.
Mark asked, “Given the statement by the president of the TT Registered Nurses Association, that patient care is being compromised owing to a critical shortage of specialised ICU nurses, can the minister state what is being done to address the issue?”
Deyalsingh said the ministry recruited seven ICU nurses from Cuba in 2020 and 18 more in 2021 in addition to training local nurses: 196 were trained in 2020 and another cohort of 100 is being trained.
He said the ratio of nurses to patients in the ICUs is estimated at 1:2 or 1:3 depending on the number of patients. In the HCUs he said the ratio is estimated at 1:4.
“We acted proactively in bringing in ICU nurses and training them,” said Deyalsingh, adding the general manager of the Couva Hospital had also assured him that the quality of care was not unduly compromised.
Responding to questions by Opposition Senator Jayanti Lutchmedial on the number of tests done specifically for covid19 variants, Deyalsingh said 1,482 people have been tested for the delta variant.
He said the criteria being used to test positive covid19 samples for the delta variant include everyone locally, who had entered the country or part of migrant populations with positive test results; all repatriated people arriving with a positive test; fully vaccinated individuals arriving with a positive test; any clusters from the community with a cycle threshold value of less than 20; and requests from health institutions in both the public and private sectors where patients fitted the criteria based on health protocols.
Deyalsingh also said the ministry gave UWI $500,000 to buy genomic sequencing equipment, increasing the testing capacity from five samples at a time to 20.
He said the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA), the collection agency for all samples from Caricom, also donated equipment to UWI to aid in expanding its testing capacity.
Deyalsingh said CARPHA does not do the testing, as that is the sole responsibility of UWI. He said the turnaround time for testing is 24 hours, but the time from initial testing to receipt of results can be longer.