THA Minority Leader: Rapid tests, parallel system needed

Minority Leader Kelvon Morris -
Minority Leader Kelvon Morris -

THA Minority Leader Kelvon Morris has proposed an 11-point plan to help with the management of covid19 in Tobago.

The plan, announced on Sunday, overlaps in some areas with some of the strategies of new Secretary of Health Dr Faith BYisrael.

BYisrael recently invited Morris to attend a Tobago House of Assembly (THA) covid19 task force meeting.

However, the Darrel Spring/Whim electoral representative said he has appointed Marilon David, executive co-ordinator, Office of the Minority Leader, to attend the meeting on his behalf.

Morris said his team has been consulting with experts within and outside the Tobago health sector to assess the challenges and "advance some clear actions to mitigate the deadly effects of the virus."

Asked by Newsday whether former health secretary and PNM Tobago Council leader Tracy Davidson-Celestine was part of his health team, Morris said via WhatsApp message, "The persons wish to remain anonymous at this time."

Morris said the should be  more expansive use of antigen tests to get an early grip on the virus.

Rapid tests are cheaper but less accurate than PCR tests. However, the public health system has been overwhelmed by the covid cases – 16,519 as of Sunday – resulting in lengthy delays in getting PCR test results.

BYisrael had been pushing for rapid tests to be used for screening even before she took office. Two weeks ago she told Minister of Health Terrence Deyalsingh and CMO Dr Roshan Parasram of her division's intent to do so.

Morris said on Sunday, "One of the first areas we looked at is identification of positive cases, and it's proposed we introduce a community-based, free rapid test throughout Tobago. This will help us to identify and isolate positive cases faster, and therefore minimise community spread."

There were 1,217 active covid19 cases in Tobago as of Sunday. Of that number, 37 are hospitalised – 31 unvaccinated, five partially vaccinated and one fully vaxxed.

Morris said the THA should partner with the accommodation centre to set up isolation centres so that the vulnerable – particularly the elderly – can receive adequate care while quarantined.

He said Tobago needs to improve its vaccination rate through an educate-to-vaccinate programme in which people will be engaged on a one-on-one basis.

Morris said critical care of covid patients needs to be revisited.

He said one of his friends lost a loved one who had contracted covid19 while seeking non-covid19 treatment at a health facility.

"We are now proposing a clear parallel system in Tobago where we can create an urgent care centre at the old hospital which would deal specifically (with)  persons with covid19 symptoms. We are also proposing it includes progressive standard operating procedures to ensure timely medical intervention for persons presenting for care."

Morris also called for mandatory infomercials targeting children to educate them about the virus.

Other suggestions include a remote workforce policy, social support for covid19 patients in quarantine, an online platform for covid19 patients in home quarantine to access medical care, and burial support for families of covid19 fatalities.


"THA Minority Leader: Rapid tests, parallel system needed"

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