MINISTRY of Health epidemiologist Dr Avery Hinds lamented a big jump in covid19 cases from October-November shown in an epidemiological graph at the ministry's televised briefing on Monday. His graph showed daily infections in October of roughly 250 cases, and those in November averaging 400-500 per day.
He expressed the spread of covid19 by noting a 60 per cent jump in infections from week 44 to week 45. This is week 46.
Hinds said the data was concerning and showed the need to adhere to public health protocols and get more people vaccinated.
He reasoned that greater amounts of covid19 virus were now circulating in the population. He based this on a recent increase in percentage positivit , which is the percentage of tests done which reflect more infection in the population. While previously only 25-30 per cent of all tests proved positive, this figure has just jumped.
"That has risen from the channel it was hovering in from between 25 and 30 to 40 per cent.
"We are looking at that as well, as that is a reflection, not a direct measurement, of the level of virus circulation in the population. As that goes up, we recognise that there are clearly more individuals in the population who are covid-positive."
Hinds presented graphs of monthly totals of covid19 cases, showing October at 6,620, while November to date was 4,930.
"Although we are only halfway through the month of November, we see that we are really nearly already at the total for the month of October. If we continue at this rate, we will have a November total that far exceeds the October total, and it might rival June (over 12,000 cases)."
Hinds said 51 per cent of infections were in the 25-49 age group, but two-thirds of deaths were of individuals over 60, saying this could be due to comorbidities weakening the body's ability to fight the virus. However, most deaths were among unvaccinated people, as he encouraged people to get vaccinated, especially those in vulnerable groups.
"For the entire country, each county has noted an increase from the penultimate week (week 43) to the ultimate week (week 44).
"That again tracks with the overall increase in cases we have noted from one week to the next."
He said this showed the need for vaccination to reduce people's chance of illness or death if they get infected.
Later in the question session, Hinds said 96 per cent of fatalities were among unvaccinated people, with some 56 vaccinated people who died constituting just 3.8 per cent of deaths.
Replying to another question, he said contact tracing suggested a much faster spread of the virus generally than before and also a much quicker spread to other members of the household of an infected person: entire households were getting infected, and this was happening very rapidly. He said this may be due to the presence of the delta strain, which was very transmissible, and/or owing to less stringency in properly isolating infected family members from other members.
Asked about a BBC news report of Austria's lockdown of its unvaccinated citizens, Hinds said any change in policy in Trinidad and Tobago would only be announced at a higher level than him.