Chief Medical Officer Dr Roshan Parasram has said with the current spike in cases, people need to adhere to the public health regulations more than ever.
At the Ministry of Health’s virtual press conference on Saturday, he said, “I would say vaccinate as quickly as you can, but vaccination will only get us this far in the middle of a surge, because it takes some time for a person to be fully vaccinated.
"So we have to go back to basics. 'Wear our masks appropriately' is one of the most important rules that we have.”
In addition to wearing masks, he asked for people to continue to wash their hands regularly; keep their distance from others; if ill, stay at home; and to stay at home if the reason to leave is not essential.
“We’re getting a lot of complaints of people, some of them even being (covid19) positive, and going out to supermarkets and other places.
"If you have a viral illness in the country at this point in time, there is possibly a one-in-two chance of it being covid.”
He added that vaccines are being widely offered but at the end of the day it is up to the population to access them.
“We have put things in place so that at least they are available, but we need the population to make the final decision as to if you are being vaccinated or not. And we are urging people to do so as quickly as you can, especially in light of the recent surges that we are having.”
Another problem, he said, was that some private medical practitioners and labs were not reporting cases to the relevant authorities. He said under public health regulation 13, they have to report positive cases to the CMO and regional health authorities.
In addition, he said, hospital occupancy in the parallel health care system had been continuously increasing since the end of September but there was a limit to the number of medical personnel in the country.
If the number of people needing hospitalisation due to covid19 continues to increase, personnel would have to be moved to deal with covid19 patients, and the ministry would have, once again, to decrease the availability of elective services such as outpatient clinics and surgeries.
“It’s pulling and tugging at all aspects of the system, not the parallel system. The quickest way for the population to help is to adhere to the public health guidelines as best as you can.”