What a remarkable turnaround. It’s as if someone opened the door and said “Let Covid-19 out!” Suddenly and awkwardly Covid-19 cases have ballooned just as the election season is over. Could it be related to those political caravans?
On April 5, the country had a mere 105 cases and that number remained fairly stable for several months. On July 21 there were 139, an increase of 34 cases in 107 days. The Ministry of Health was crowing that they had conquered Covid-19. They had seemingly eliminated the virus. Best in the world was the word in the papers. Daily conferences that were really theatrical shows, were the highlight of many people’s days. “All established protocols have been implemented” was repeated ad nauseaum.
People became complacent. Liming, whether in bars or down the islands, same thing, different socioeconomic groups, became common. The virus was no longer to be found in T&T. Testing was showing that.
Some kept saying that testing was not being done enough. It was the third lowest in the Caribbean, among the lowest in the world. All sorts of excuses were given for not testing more. A favourite was that if you test people and the test comes back negative then they will think they do not have the virus and behave accordingly. But isn’t it the same if you do not test? If you are not tested, you cannot know if you have the virus. The only way to know is to test. In addition, that way the “authorities” have a guide to what’s happening in the community and can plan accordingly.
Every practicing doctor knows of a dozen or so people with Covid-19 symptoms who were sent for testing and refused. The main reason given for months was “no contact with travel”. This became the mantra. If you have had no contact with travel, you could not have Covid-19 even if you had symptoms. A self-fulfilling prophecy. There was no Covid-19 in the community. The Ministry of Health kept insinuating that the only way it could reappear is if someone brought it into the island.
Things began to fall apart. Between July 21 and July 31, in a ten day span, 30 cases appeared, up to 169 now. No problem we were told, it’s those foreign Trinis who come home and bring in the virus. Lock them up! Surround them with police and soldiers. Separate a breastfeeding mother from her baby when she tests positive ten days after landing. Make snide references to the Venies who were still coming in. Suddenly it became apparent that the borders were not really closed. Piarco was closed, not the borders. Were the Venies being tested? To this day nobody knows. Has contact tracing found the Venezuelans implicated in the spread of Covid-19? Nobody knows. The silence is deafening.
On Election Day there were 281 known cases, an increase of 112 cases in ten days, not that we actually knew how many cases a day were coming back positive. Why? Seems the process of reporting positive cases to the CMO was a bit flawed. There was a mumbo-jumbo explanation about delay between results from this lab which had to be sent to another lab which then sent it to another lab which then sent it to the Ministry of Health from where it made its way to the CMO office who then informed somebody to make a statement.
Five months after the start of the outbreak and there was still no plan or organisation to deal with testing and reporting.
As of today August 15 there are 497 cases. We have seen a remarkable increase of 216 cases in the week after Election, 30 cases a day. What is really happening?
We’ll find out. The number of cases can be fudged, through incompetence or otherwise. Access to excess deaths for 2020 can be difficult to get but will ultimately appear in some statistics. But you cannot hide deaths from Covid-19. Deaths begin to appear a couple of weeks after a surge in cases.
By next week we will have a better idea what is happening.