Tobago’s second positive novel coronavirus (COVID-19) patient does not have any travel history, a situation which now his co-workers at the Scarborough Hospital wary about whether they were exposed to the virus.
The male healthcare worker is attached to the Accident and Emergency Department and after his test came back positive, the hospital was sanitised yesterday and workers were offered counselling. His case was announced even as the Ministry of Health announced the death of a second patient from the virus, an elderly man, yesterday.
Speaking at a press conference on Friday, Tobago House of Assembly Secretary for Health, Wellness and Family Development Tracy Davidson-Celestine tried to allay the fears and safety concerns of other staff members.
Davidson-Celestine said the workers were now their priority.
“I want to emphasise to the public, I want to emphasise to all healthcare workers that they are a priority in this particular instance and I wish to give to them all the assurance that all is being done to ensure that they are all safe,” Davidson-Celestine said.
“I know that there are concerns but our very capable doctors have been meeting with them, allaying the fears and addressing all the questions that they may have.”
It was revealed that when the employee first showed symptoms, including a fever, he wore a mask and alerted his supervisor. He was then allowed to leave to self-quarantine. Having received the results, the worker and his family members have since been isolated.
Other members of staff continue to work but are on the lookout for any signs of the virus.
Asked how the employee contracted the virus, Head of the Accident and Emergency Department, Dr Ian Sammy, revealed they were unsure as the worker had no travel history and had not been in contact with the first person who tested positive for COVID-19 on the island. However, he refused to divulge any more information on the worker as he did not want to breach any confidentiality guidelines.
Sammy said despite the situation, employees continue to carry out their duties.
“My staff in the Emergency Department are the frontline staff. I will tell you that from the beginning of this, we have all been anxious and somewhat afraid of what may be developing, both for our patients and also for ourselves. But I can tell you that to date, I have not had a single staff member in my department who refuse to do their job,” Sammy said. Davidson-Celestine said meetings were held with the staff to inform them of the situation and provide them with the necessary psychological support. She said the hospital has been and continues to be deeply sanitised, while regular cleaning and disinfection will continue. She also said contact tracing is ongoing.
Davidson-Celestine added that in light of the COVID-19 crisis, nine doctors and 15 nurses had been hired on a short-term basis to augment the current human resource.
The hospital Accident and Emergency Department remained functional despite word of the positive case yesterday.
Davidson-Celestine reminded the public to call the Tobago COVID-19 hotline (800-HEAL) to report anyone who has had a travel history within the last 14 days and have not been in self-quarantine.