Chief Medical Officer Dr Roshan Parasram has confirmed this country is in the early stages of community spread of the Delta variant.
He says the variant has been spreading among this country’s population “for a couple weeks, if not longer.”
The confirmation came yesterday, hours after the Ministry of Health revealed five Delta infections among the population, one whom was considered an imported case. Among the latest cases, however, are two unvaccinated minors.
Speaking at the Ministry of Health’s COVID-19 virtual media briefing, the Chief Medical Officer explained, “We would have reported last night (Sunday) six additional cases, five of which have no travel-related component to it, so we can clearly say that now we are in a stage of community spread of Delta, albeit in the early stages.”
The detections now take the total number of Delta variant cases confirmed in the country to 17, eight of which were detected among the population.
This likelihood was always acknowledged by Dr Parasram and other health officials prior to last week’s detection of the first two cases contracted from among the population.
The Ministry of Health has also confirmed the source of infection for some of these recent cases.
Four of the five cases were in contact with previously confirmed COVID-19 patients.
“Those cases themselves would not have been deemed Delta as yet and, of course, testing is ongoing,” Parasram said.
The CMO noted that once the sequencing on those initial cases was completed, it is likely they will be positive for the Delta variant.
“If you have people in a house, for example, with Delta, who have been confirmed with Delta – generally speaking, if you have other positives in that household, which is the case in these instances, you would likely see those as being positive for Delta as well,” Parasram said.
Of the Delta cases confirmed on Sunday, one was an unvaccinated national minor who recently travelled to Trinidad from New York.
The other five cases were detected in the community with no recent history of travel. One of these cases was another unvaccinated minor and someone who the Chief Medical Officer said “had a vaccination prior.”
The Delta cases revealed on Sunday, according to Parasram, were asymptomatic or have a mild strain of the disease. He said he believed the majority of Delta patients were at home, with only one or two being in isolation. However, he admitted he would need to verify that information.
He said the Delta variant patients from among the population were detected in medical counties of St George East, St George West, Caroni, St Patrick and Victoria.
With the variant now believed to be circulating among the population, Parasram urged people to get vaccinated.
“A lot of times, in terms of a disease being more transmissible, you tend to find it causes a lot of asymptomatic spread and a lot of mild symptoms, so that it’s very difficult to detect and it moves very quickly through the population. So that is something that we see in Delta in particular. It is more transmissible, therefore it can move from one person to the next very quickly undetected,” he said.
“Again, we have to go back to what we’ve been saying since last year. It’s an invisible pathogen and we need everyone to take all the public health precautions. Just because you see someone that doesn’t display any symptoms doesn’t mean that they don’t have COVID-19 and they can’t transmit it so we have to be very careful.”