The vast majority of businesses in this country are free to resume business this week, children in Forms 4-6 are back in the classroom once they are vaccinated and there is a promise that soon, the remaining quota of secondary school students will be allowed to return.
Amid the joy that comes with this reopening and the extra freedom of movement, however, there remains the lingering concern about the spread of the virus and the fact that significant numbers of people are falling ill and dying from the virus daily, which is now even more critical given that the Delta variant has rooted itself within communities.
There are now 49 known cases of the deadly Delta variant in this country and two patients have died from the strain. Who knows how many more people are infected? There was a recent admission that there was wide community spread of the deadliest of the COVID-19 variants, and yet over a year and a half into the fight against the virus Trinidadians seem to be still unaware of just how life-saving a vaccine can be.
Yesterday, Director of Women’s Health at the Ministry of Health, Dr Adesh Sirjusingh, revealed 744 pregnant women had been diagnosed with COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic. Stunningly, the largest number of cases, 161, were recorded last month and there are already 21 cases so far this month.
Noting that as of October 9, 714 pregnant women had received a first dose and 374 their full regime of the Pfizer vaccine, Dr Sirjusingh again reminded that pregnant women are at higher risk if they contract COVID.
In Trinidad and Tobago, even as Delta cases continue to grow, the uptick in vaccination is just not there. Officials continue to hope those who are hesitant will see the light and accept the vaccines for what they are — the best layer of protection against a virus that is showing no signs of letting up.
Half a billion dollars has been spent by Government on vaccines. This country has choices many others don’t have and vaccines are easy to access. If they didn’t before, citizens must come to realise that the Delta variant is no joke with community spread, it’s only a matter of time before someone you know or love gets it. Vaccination, therefore, may be a matter of life and death.
With the death toll now climbing to 1,600 in a population of 1.3 million, T&T needs to ensure that those who can take all steps to protect themselves.
This coming weekend, the New Zealand government is planning a “Super Saturday” vaccination drive that it likens to an election day, when vaccination centres will be open throughout the day and into the evening. Maybe T&T can consider a similar initiative, complete with music and MPs on hand to encourage their constituents to get inoculated.
However, the safe zones initiative means that there is now another activity that needs to be closely monitored to ensure there are no superspreader events that work to the detriment of the entire society.