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Port-of-Spain General Hospital

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Over the past two weeks, some 18 nurses at the Port-of-Spain General Hospital have been tested for COVID-19 and placed into immediate quarantine.

According to the T&T Registered Nurses’ Association president Idi Stuart, this is not the first such occurrence and it is expected as par for the course in the fight against the virus.

“There have been several instances where staff had been exposed to positive cases. While there is a screening process for incoming patients, it has not prevented patients with underlying illnesses from entering—particularly COVID-19,” he told Guardian Media in a telephone interview yesterday.

According to Stuart, eight nurses from the Port-of-Spain General Hospital were swabbed and placed into quarantine last week while 10 were swabbed over the course of this week. Some were also being swabbed yesterday.

However, Stuart believes this occurrence, coupled with the movement of nurses out of regional health authorities to the parallel healthcare system to directly treat with COVID-19 patients, is now placing the North West Regional Health Authority under stress for nursing staff.

“Right now, management is finding it extremely difficult to be able to properly man the institutions. They are doing the best that they can but it requires significantly more nursing personnel to replace those who have been placed on quarantine leave,” Stuart said.

He also raised concerns over the sanitisation practices at the hospital. He said the tardy sanitisation of areas where suspected COVID-19 patients and those who subsequently tested positive posed a risk to healthcare workers and other patients.

“What we are asking the authorities to do is to have timely and constant and persistent sanitisation of units following confirmed or suspected cases being placed on the ward. Once that happens, it would reduce the chance of spread among staff and amongst patients,” he said.

Guardian Media reached out to the North West Regional Health Authority for comment but did not get a response up to last evening.