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Chief Medical Officer Dr Roshan Parasram

Babies, one as young as two months old, have tested positive for the COVID-19 virus while returning to Trinidad and Tobago.

Chief Medical Officer Dr Roshan Parasram revealed the information yesterday at the Ministry of Health’s COVID-19 update.

Parasram said that newborns and babies always needed to have a nasal swab and a negative PCR test before coming into the country and there is no intention to change that policy.

The question arose as to the minimum required age for a PCR test and Parasram said there was none.

“In terms of minors, the entry policy as it relates to PCR testing in T&T since the beginning of the pandemic has been the same. Since we’ve started to do PCR testing prior to entry, there has been no lower limit to be cut off, meaning it started at birth and goes all the way up,” he said.

Parasram said children will also be tested three to five days after they enter the country.

“Reason being, those people in general cannot be vaccinated and they pose a greater risk,” he said.

“Also in terms of our mask-wearing legislation children under eight are not required to wear masks, so they pose a greater risk of transmitting possible variants or other forms of the virus,” he said.

“We are seeing it as an essential step to ensure that they do have the negative PCR prior to entering,” he said.

Epidemiologist Dr Avery Hinds also attended the press conference. He said while the country has now recorded 1,000 COVID-19 related deaths, the disease doesn’t hold the top spot for the biggest contributor to deaths locally.

“The number one killer has not actually changed with respect to NCD’s (non-communicable diseases), cardiovascular disease etc being responsible for the majority of the deaths that occur on a given timeframe,” said the Ministry of Health’s epidemiology division’s technical director.

“It (COVID-19) has manifested itself as an acute change in the causes of death and that in and of itself makes it important but that does not fall into the number one spot by any stretch of the imagination either locally nor globally.”

Dr Hinds also noted that the decrease in COVID cases has plateaued.

“The plateauing means that the rate at which we were seeing decreases in the number of cases have slowed,” he said.

“And we are seeing relatively similar number of cases over a protracted period of time. Now, this is as a result of the increased movement we would have seen in the beginning with the bringing the construction sector back up, bringing everybody back out and the additional interaction that was happening in the population,” Hinds said.

He added that there is a risk that instead of a plateau, the numbers can begin to climb.

“That risk is really modulated by the behaviour of the population,” he said.

– With reporting by Rishard Khan