Doctors hopeful as covid deaths decline

The Couva Hospital where the majority of critical covid patients are treated.  -
The Couva Hospital where the majority of critical covid patients are treated. -

There have been small decreases in Trinidad and Tobago’s covid19 numbers recently and health experts are hoping they will continue.

Giving the epidemiological update at a press conference at the Diplomatic Centre, St Ann’s on Saturday, epidemiologist Dr Avery Hinds said the decrease was noted in the second week of January.

“In the first two weeks of January we haven’t quite halved December’s numbers, but we still have to see if that downward trend continues.”

He said TT saw spikes in cases when new variants were introduced to the country so another one is expected when omicron becomes more rampant. Therefore, it is even more important to adhere to the public health regulations, wear masks, wash, hands, social distance, and get vaccinated against covid19.

On Saturday, the ministry reported an additional 24 deaths and 810 new cases.

The demographics on covid19 cases and deaths remain about the same. Fifty-one per cent of the cases were in the 25-49 age group, and two-thirds of the fatalities are in those over 60. Also, the presence of comorbidities and the absence of vaccinations were the main factors in the mortality rate.

He added that the death rate among the unvaccinated is 15.6 times higher than in the unvaccinated.

“There are queries about whether vaccines are helping our working. Our data is showing that it is actually making a difference.”

Principal Medical Officer Dr Maryam Abdool-Richards said the net number of admissions had been between 212 and 154 over the last five weeks but there was a slight decline in the number of patients being hospitalised in the parallel health care system over the past two weeks.

“Last week, we saw marginally (fewer) patients than the previous week. Last week we saw an additional 128 patients as opposed to 159 patients. Not a very significant decrease but still a decrease there.”

She said over the past 88 days the hospitals in the parallel system were at 70 per cent occupancy, with a peak of 81 per cent in the last week of November. As of Saturday morning, intensive care unit occupancy was 88 per cent, and the high dependency unit was 71 per cent.

However, there was a decrease in the number of patients who required covid19 treatment in the Accident and Emergency departments in the traditional health care system. On Saturday, there were 87 patients there, with 16 needing ICU care.

Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh added that, up to Friday, 679,282 people or 48.5 per cent of the population were fully vaccinated and 98,490 accessed boosters.

He said from December 20 -January 10, there was an increase in vaccine uptake but that decreased in the last few days.

“We were averaging about 1,400 per day, 1,500 per day and that trend held from Monday 20 December-Monday 10 January. We started to see a decline from Tuesday of this week, when we went down to 1,302, Wednesday 1,159, and then, unfortunately, Thursday and Friday dipped below 1,000.”

He encouraged people to get their booster shots to “beat” omicron.

Chief Medical Officer Roshan Parasram said there was a possibility the omicron variant was more aerosolised, which could be one reason it is more transmissible.

He said N95 and surgical masks are better protection against particles entering or exiting the respiratory system but the type of mask a person wears would depend on the setting in which a person was working. For example, someone working in a clinical setting may wear an N95 and a shield.

He said the public policy was to wear masks at all times in public so cloth masks could be sufficient but more layers would be better.

“It’s hard to get people to wear even one mask to cover your nose, mouth and chin, so if we can have people wearing a mask properly, at this point, we will take that for now.”

He added that WHO-approved baricitinib and sotrovimab, drugs for the treatment of patients with moderate to severe or critical covid19, on January 14. He said there were local companies that were agents for the drugs so the ministry is looking to procure them.

He reminded the country has IL-6 inhibitors and dexamethasone, which are being used in the hospitals.


"Doctors hopeful as covid deaths decline"

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