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Dr Maryam Abdool-Richards

Principal Medical Officer Dr Maryam Abdool-Richards has dispelled claims that the Delta variant of COVID-19 is in T&T.

Speaking during the Ministry of Health’s virtual media briefing yesterday, she said symptoms of this variant include a dry cough and shortness of breath, which closely mirror symptoms associated with other variants of the virus.

She advised, “Once a person or an individual has any of those suspect symptoms…the common and the less common symptoms, they are advised to immediately seek medical attention.”

Abdool-Richards added, “At this point in time, there are no confirmed cases of the Delta variant in T&T.”

Addressing concerns that the Sinopharm vaccine was also said to be “giving” people the virus, she said this was not true either.

She appealed to people to keep their appointments to secure second dose vaccines and not be scared off.

Heartened that overall occupancy levels in the parallel healthcare system had fallen to 51 per cent, Abdool-Richards said, “This represents a general decline we have been noting since June 1, 2021.”

Despite this, she said the Intensive Care Unit occupancy in Trinidad remained at 98 per cent; while the High Dependency Unit capacity is currently at 59 per cent.

Commenting on the improved response times for ambulance services within the South West Regional Authority (SWRHA), CEO Dr Brian Amour said although they experienced a challenge in dealing with increased cases during the month of May, the response times became more manageable as the numbers began to fall.

He said GMRTT is a national service provider that operates with the directives of the ministry, and following the peak around mid-May or so, there were challenges with respect to the times.

However, he said as the month of June draws to a close, it had become more manageable.

Amour said the SWRHA is also responsible for inter-facility transfers and with its own fleet, this allows for the easy and quick transfer of patients to any of the SWRHA facilities, which include step-down facilities.

Commenting on the incident in which a COVID-19-positive woman delivered twins pre-term, following which one of the babies passed, Amour said both babies were “critically ill.”

He said the SWRHA had followed the general guidelines as it related to pregnancies.

He said, “For a pregnant mother having COVID-19, we have to take care of the mom first, so to speak, and therefore decisions are made in that regard. Thereafter, any issue that relates to the unborn baby or delivery, then a separate clinical decision is made in order to ensure a safe and healthy delivery, which, at this time, will occur at the San Fernando General Hospital.”