DESPITE a decrease in the daily number of covid19 cases over the past week, principal medical officer Maryam Abdool-Richards said it was no time to relax and predicted an upsurge in cases with the spread of the omicron variant.
At Saturday's health media conference, she said of the 58 people currently in accident and emergency, 16 were in intensive care units (ICU) and there continued to be a consistent demand for ICU beds.
“At this time in TT, 66 out 80 activated ICU beds are filled. This gives an ICU occupancy nationally of 83 per cent. Furthermore, over the last 95 days, we have noticed an average ICU occupancy of 89 per cent, which means on any given day nine out of ten beds will be filled.
“We now have the advent of omicron in our population and our ICU beds are almost filled. We have noted an increase in numbers over the last two days and this leads us to predict that there will be a demand for an increased number of beds across the system,” she said.
Abdool-Richards said the virus continued to evolve making it difficult to adapt and which has also put a strain on the health system’s limited resources.
“We continue as a courageous and resilient medical team to try our best to increase capacity and we also continue to try to ensure that quality of care that every single patient receives is to the national guidelines and in compliance to the national guidelines.
“However, resources are limited and eventually they may be expended. We ask the population to review the certainties of the treatment of covid19. Vaccination has been proven to be safe and effective in reducing the risk of hospitalisation, reduces the risk of transmitting the virus and the variants to your vulnerable relatives, that is the elderly or young children who cannot be vaccinated.”
Epidemiologist Dr Avery Hinds said the omicron variant was now at the stage of community transmission.
Saturday’s 4 pm health update said eight additional deaths brought the total number of covid19 deaths to 3,286.
The deaths included four elderly males, one elderly female and three middle-aged males, all of whom presented comorbidities which included diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, lung disease, and a history of strokes.
The ministry said there were also 705 new covid19 cases and that the positive samples were taken between January 15-21.
It added that the total number of patients in hospital was 438, patients in step-down facilities were 109 and patients in home isolation were 17,142.
The release said a total of 83,952 people have recovered. There have been 484 recovered community cases and 68 people have been discharged from public health facilities.
The total number of people fully vaccinated was 684,018 or 48.9 per cent of the population.
People with the first dose of the two-dose regimen was 677,726, people vaccinated with the second dose of the two-dose regimen was 631,384, people vaccinated under the single-dose regimen was 52,634 and total boosters administered were 104,549.
Covid19 testing not under strain
Epidemiologist Dr Avery Hinds said the current procedure for testing and quarantine, or isolation was not in strain but rather the set-up was part of the existing quarantine and timeframes to be effective as possible.
Newsday sought answers about the quarantine period and authorisation that would release a person from isolation.
The ministry's policy at this time stated that “Release from quarantine or isolation owing to covid19 is automatic once the quarantine period has come to an end and no release documents are required. This applies to all covid19 positive individuals and their contacts, whether household or otherwise.”
Hinds said there was not a need at the end of the 14 days to revisit testing for an individual to resume normal daily activities.
“This is a position that supported by the WHO and supported from the perspective, not only of the logistics but also in terms of the general management of resources. We are focusing on testing people who are ill and identifying new individuals so that we can quarantine and isolate appropriately and slow the spread.
“It is not the most beneficial use of that resource to use the same test resources to test people to make sure that they are negative to go back out, given the fact that the biological evidence suggests that the timeframes we have implemented for isolation and quarantine are sufficient to reduce the risk.