For those people eagerly awaiting the reopening of T&T’s borders in the coming weeks, they will have to meet the criteria currently being formulated and also adhere to national policy guidelines as it relates to quarantine.
This is according to local health officials who said even though an individual may be fully vaccinated, they want to mitigate against the risks that returning people may pose.
Responding to questions during yesterday’s virtual media briefing hosted by the Ministry of Health, Chief Medical Officer Dr Roshan Parasram said there was still a risk of infection in people who are fully vaccinated.
He said, “One of the vaccines, the AstraZeneca, provides evidence to suggest the risk of infection is reduced to almost 67 per cent if you do get two doses and you wait your two weeks.”
However, with the chance of re-infection still present, Parasram said, “With the advent of doing a 72-hour PCR on top of vaccination, it further minimises the risk from this group that is coming into the country.”
The CMO said this along with other factors will be considered as to the decision on if and how long the quarantine period will last for returning passengers once the borders are reopened.
He added, “There will still be policies in place in terms of quarantine so again, those policies will be in place even though you have an open border.”
Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley has said that consideration was being given to reopening the nation’s borders soon as they continue to vaccinate the local populace.
Pointing to other parts of the world where people are being quarantined at different levels based on their conditions, Parasram said the Ministry of Health, along with other ministries, would submit recommendations to the Prime Minister.
Meanwhile, Parasram said infections across T&T were being observed among households as larger proportions of family clusters were testing positive during this wave of the pandemic.
He explained that people continued to contract the virus in offices and when visiting essential places such as groceries, following which it was transmitted to those at home.
And with large numbers of essential workers such as healthcare personnel and police officers continuing to test positive for the virus, he said greater efforts are being made to vaccinate this sub-set to restrict spread.
To those at home who have so far tested positive, the CMO advised them to wear a mask and isolate as best as possible to prevent spread to other family members.
Providing figures as to the number of patients in the community who are COVID-19 positive but are not hospitalised, Parasram said county Victoria continued to record the highest at 25.3 per cent while Nariva/Mayaro had the lowest at 1.4 per cent, followed by Tobago at two per cent.
Parasram said, “The counties that have been improving steadily are St Andrews/St David, Tobago and Nariva/Mayaro together with St Patrick.”
Disclosing that recoveries stood at 4. 9 per cent, with transfers to facilities at 2.1 per cent; and symptomatic versus asymptomatic cases at 48.5 per cent and 44.4 per cent respectively– the CMO said they had also seen a shift in patterns as persons suffering with co-morbidities such as diabetes and hypertension now accounted for the largest group of persons diagnosed with COVID-19.
Approximately 30.6 per cent of the overall number of infections are in persons who suffer with diabetes, while 39.2 per cent suffer from hypertension. Yet another large group of persons suffering with the virus are those with asthma at 17.8 per cent.
The ratio of those suffering with co-morbidities who have contracted the virus is 47.9 per cent, as opposed to those without co-morbidities who have contracted the virus which stands at 52.1 per cent.
Another new trend that has been observed is the occurrence of the virus in persons aged 80 years and over, who are now presenting with symptoms, requiring treatment and care.
On the issue of protocols for people returning to work after testing positive for the virus, Parasram said, “Once you have spent the prescribed period of time in your quarantine, based on what the County Medical Officer of Health has put on your form, you don’t have to have a negative form on exit.”
He said while many private-sector workers had taken it upon themselves to be tested – they had to follow the directions as outlined but overall, should not need a subsequent test.
Parasram said, “What I would suggest is that we follow the national protocol across the board. Be guided by the CMOH as to when it is safe for someone to go back out to work and they will prescribe basically how long you need to stay in your quarantine.”
Victoria – 25.3 per cent
Caroni – 17.6 per cent
St George Central – 15.7 per cent
St George West – 12.4 per cent
St Patrick – 12 per cent
St George East – 9.1 per cent
St Andrews/St David – 4.7 per cent
Tobago – 2 per cent
Nariva/Mayaro – 1.4 per cent