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Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh receives his second dose of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine from North West Regional Health Authority Primary Care nurse manager Maureen Wharfe-Salcedo, at the Paddock Queen’s Park Savannah, Port-of-Spain, yesterday.

Private medical facilities were never prevented from treating COVID-19 patients according to the Chief Medical Officer Dr Roshan Parasram.

He was responding to an open letter penned by columnist Ira Mathur published in Sunday’s Guardian. Mathur made several calls for the private healthcare sector to join in the COVID-19 fight, one of which was to “allow private hospitals and labs to treat and test COVID-19 patients.”

In response to this point on Monday during a virtual press conference, the Chief Medical Officer said: “From the Ministry of Health’s perspective, the private sector was never told at any point during this pandemic that they can’t see COVID-19 cases.”

“But on the contrary, a lot of the cases, once they turned up positive were shuttled to the public sector and we were happy to have them and continue to do so. So there’s no restriction on the private sector seeing COVID-19 cases from the Ministry of Health. But we will gladly see the cases if they are not seen in the private sector,” he said.

Shortly after receiving his second dose of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine yesterday, Minister of Health Terrence Deyalsingh indicated the ministry is open to using one private hospital in East Trinidad.

He was responding to a question on the matter and said he asked the North Central Health Authority to reach out to the businessman who offered the hospital to the government free-of-charge for the necessary information.

“I have asked the CEO to actually contact Mr Balliram Maharaj to provide the following documentation. One, his certification as being registered under the Private Hospitals Act. Two, we need to know who his chief of staff is, we need to know his staffing, we need to know how much beds he has in the hospital, how much ICU beds, how much HDU beds. We need to know his…major medical equipment. We need to how many nurses he has on staff and how many doctors.”

Minister Deyalsingh said only when all the information can be verified, then further discussions would be pursued.

“That is part of the rigour of ascertaining what is there on that particular site,” he said.

Meanwhile, Health Minister Deyalsingh received his 2nd dose of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine at Queens Park Savannah Port-of- Spain. He along with persons who received their first jab on April 6 are now eligible to receive their 2nd dose at vaccination sites across the country, according to the Ministry of Health.