Mask mandate ends on July 17

File photo
File photo

COME July 17, the wearing of masks in public will no longer be mandatory and as such, people not wearing any, will no longer be liable to police action including fixed penalty fines.

This was confirmed by Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh who in the weekly Wednesday covid19 virtual press conference, said the ministry would be issuing guidelines to groups in society which it recommends should still be masked in public.

He said under the new regulations to be issued, masking will remain mandatory for any visit to public health centres.

Deyalsingh said there are four vulnerable groups which the ministry recommends should continue to wear masks.

“These are the unvaccinated, who comprise 49 per cent of the population and who will now have to take special care when the mandate is lifted.

"The second is immunocompromised people, especially those with non-communicable diseases like cancer, heart disease, kidney disease, those who are overweight and obese; the elderly; and the pregnant population.

“We are asking people to do a risk-based survey of themselves to assess whether they need to continue wearing masks. This risk should be based on your vaccination status, your medical history, your age, and the composition of your household,” Deyalsingh said.

His ministry is recommending people continue to wear masks in geriatric homes, children’s homes, in all forms of public transportation, at religious services, and all places where people are congregating indoors with inadequate ventilation and where there is difficulty in maintaining physical distancing.

Deyalsingh said the updated guidelines would be posted on the Health Ministry’s website by July 13.

He said the ministry felt the healthcare system would be able to deal with any spike in covid19 cases resulting from the lifting of this final restriction.

“Our hospitalisation numbers have dipped below 100, and our intensive care and high dependency unit numbers are low, with hospital occupancy at 15 per cent and positivity at 26 per cent. We feel these trends are sustainable at this point in time.”


Chief Medical Office Dr Roshan Parasram said that out of 18 covid19 samples sent for genomic testing last week, the majority of cases were of the omicron BA2 variant; one case of the omicron BA4 variant – which is behind current infection spikes in other countries; and one case of the dangerous delta variant.

“Just to underscore, we still have the delta variant of concern in circulation, although at a very low level, in TT, and of course the predominant variant of concern right now is the omicron variant, and the variant sub-lineage is the BA2 type," Parasram said.

"If we have discovered a BA4 type in that small sample, it suggests that it would have been in circulation for at least a couple of weeks in TT,” he added.

Epidemiologist Dr Avery Hinds said looking at the decrease in cases in the latter part of June, and taking into account the additional movement and gatherings taking place in that time frame, there was a balance to be considered.

“We’re looking at the balance between enhanced interaction, relaxation of restrictions and transmission of a respiratory transmissible virus.

"We’re observing the effects of the virus on the population, levels of severe illness arising out of and the ongoing ability of the health system to deal with the current levels of transmission.

"Individuals not testing in the public system and not becoming ill enough to require care at any level are people we’re not as worried about at a public health level. Once they don’t need to seek care, that’s a good thing for the population in general,” Hinds said.


"Mask mandate ends on July 17"

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