The Ministry of Health is bracing for a rise in the number of patients they will have to test and positive COVID-19 cases this weekend. Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh made the comment at a press conference Friday, as he announced a second death and revealed this weekend would be the country’s tipping point in fighting this global pandemic.
“We now have two deaths from COVID-19,” Deyalsingh said.
As he gave an update on the virus, which claimed the lives of two elderly men between Wednesday and Thursday, Deyalsingh said of the 453 samples tested by Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA), 66 people had also tested positive for the virus, while one patient who tested positive had since been discharged. To be discharged from hospital, Deyalsingh said the patient must be asymptomatic for seven days and has “get two negative tests 24-hours apart.” But after being discharged, the patient must also self- isolate for seven days at home, he said.
US national Hansel Leon was the first fatality while Deyalsingh said the second patient was a T&T national who died on Thursday.
“He was an elderly gentleman ... unfortunately with pre-existing medical complications,” Deyalsingh said, adding they were sticking with to their protocol for announcing deaths.
“That is, we wait for a reasonable time for the family to be informed...for the family to bring in all their documents...the death certificate and so on, so it can be processed.”
Despite the seriousness of the virus and possibility of quick spread, Deyalsingh said they remained of the firm view the family of the deceased should be given time to grieve before the death is released to the public.
“These unfortunate people who have died...their families and friends are real live people...flesh and blood. So we at the ministry have taken a moral and ethical stance in the way we treat with the dissemination of information regarding the death of any COVID-19 patient.”
In the ministry’s 10 am and 4 pm daily updates Friday, Deyalsingh said they will now add deaths as a new category. He said the ministry has also brought on board Dr Anthony Parkinson to manage patients at Caura and Couva Hospitals using ventilators.
He also said all elective surgeries at the nation’s hospitals will be put on hold and rescheduled some time in the future.
Deyalsingh said he expected the surge of 19,852 nationals who recently returned home, prior to the closure of T&T borders and had been ordered to self-isolate, would be a pool to be closely monitored because many of them came from countries where the virus existed.
“That is where the tipping point is because the vast majority of these 19,852 people would have come from three major countries - the United Kingdom, Canada and the United States.”
Saying some people have not been heeding this warning, Deyalsingh said we should expect a sharp rise in cases from this weekend.
He said some 200 health care professionals are on stand by to assist should they need them and a hotline will also be established for health care providers to make COVID-19 reports.