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The National Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention Programme Co-ordinator, Lyra Thompson-Hollingsworth.

One of the negative effects of the COVID-19 pandemic in T&T is an increase in alcohol abuse.

The National Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention Programme (NADAPP) Co-ordinator Lyra Thompson-Hollingsworth said that treatment centres in T&T have been receiving increased calls from people abusing alcohol.

“We are hearing from our stakeholders, from the treatment facilities that they have received increased calls from persons who have become closet drinkers, in terms of dealing with the effects of the pandemic and isolation. Those are some of the anecdotal reports that we may have. In terms of collecting the empirical evidence, that is a process that we are currently engaged in,” she said speaking at the Ministry of Health press conference on Saturday.

She also said for people who want to access counselling in this area, there are support agencies like Alcoholic Anonymous (AA).

She urged people wishing to consume during this time of the year to be more responsible. This weekend is Carnival weekend, although all official Carnival events have been cancelled because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ministry hoping vigils don’t bring numbers up

Epidemiologist at the Ministry of Health Dr Avery Hinds, who also spoke at the press briefing, said only time will tell if the large gatherings taking place across the country rejecting violence against women, will lead to increase COVID-19 cases.

“We note the gatherings that have taken place over the last few days with respect to all the demonstrations of support and the highlighting of the need for better conduct nationally. But what we hope has taken place is that in the midst of that individuals are to some extent still wearing the mask, still maintaining some measure of social distancing, although it does not always appear that way in the photos.

“We encourage anyone participating in activities along these lines to follow those guidelines. We are hoping that we don’t see an increase in transmission as a result of these gatherings. Only time will tell. We will look at the data to see whether there are increasing numbers as opposed to decreasing numbers.”

He said T&T has been experiencing a drop in the number of new COVID-19 cases, but cautioned citizens to maintain all health protocols.

“We are seeing a heartening trend towards smaller numbers over the last few days and we would really like to encourage the population to continue the behaviours that will promote the reduction and spread. We are not seeing large numbers at this point in time which means that the activities that we have been advocating have been having the desired public health effect.”

Five new COVID cases

There were five new COVID cases reported in the previous 24 hours according to the Ministry of Health’s last clinical update yesterday evening. 7,334 patients have recovered totally. The total active cases are 170. There are now 138 deaths and 7,642 cases since March 2020. There are 26 patients in hospitals. There are 219 people in state quarantine, while those in home self-isolation are 139.