Health Minister Terrance Deyalsingh answers questions during a press conference at the Diplomatic Centre, St Ann’s, yesterday.

A group of Cuban nurses are due to arrive in T&T shortly to assist local healthcare professionals in the fight against the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

Confirming this during a media briefing yesterday, Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh said, “It has always been this Government’s policy to seek Cuban professionals where there is a lack of that particular speciality in T&T. As per COVID-19, we do have a cohort of intensive care nurses coming in.”

Indicating that government had signed off on it approximately three weeks ago, Deyalsingh said interviews were done online to assess the suitability and language skills of the applicants.

While it is not known when and how exactly they will arrive in the country, the foreign personnel will be deployed throughout intensive care units at the various hospitals.

The Cuban nurses will be under the purview of Dr Anthony Parkinson of the North West Regional Health Authority (NWRHA) – whom the ministry has brought on to manage the intensive care unit response across T&T.

So far, Cuba has deployed healthcare workers to Belize, Antigua and Barbuda, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Dominica and Jamaica.

In a status update on patients, Chief Medical Officer (CMO) Dr Roshan Parasram said there are currently three patients in the Intensive Care Unit at the Couva Hospital – of which two were said to be stable, whilst the other was in a critical condition.

In the High Dependency Unit, there are 14 patients, all of whom he claimed are stable.

Of the 48 remaining patients at Couva, Parasram described them as “ambulatory” as he explained, “They are free to walk about, they have mild illness and some of them actually have no symptoms at present.”

“In Caura, there are five ambulatory cases, again, being able to walk about as if you are home and all of those are stable as well. There are a number of cases that are awaiting swab results that are being held at Caura just to protect the population.”

In the 4 pm daily update from the Ministry of Health, officials reported that 539 samples had been submitted to the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) for testing; T&T had recorded 83 positive COVID-19 cases; three deaths had resulted from the virus in persons 70 years and older, and one patient had been discharged after recovering.

Meanwhile, Tobago has recorded its’ third COVID-19 case.

The information was confirmed by the Tobago House of Assembly’s (THA) Division of Health and Wellness in a statement on Monday.

The release said the individual has been isolated and is being closely monitored.

Up to 10 am yesterday, island officials confirmed that 31 samples had been submitted to CARPHA for testing.

Three samples have been tested positive, while 63 people remain quarantined at the Division’s quarantine facilities.

Further to this, the MOH is reminding the public that CARPHA is the only reference laboratory authorised to test persons in T&T.

Parasram said, “We have said quite a while ago that the only reference lab that is doing testing for T&T and the MOH, is the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) and we continue to only recognise the CARPHA.”

The CMO appealed to citizens to, “Behave as if the person next to you has COVID-19…and staying at home to stay safe is our response.”

The public is reminded that the implementation of simple, preventative measures will reduce the risk of contracting COVID-19.