Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh begs two unidentified men to wear face masks to protect themselves against COVID-19 on the Brian Lara Promenade, Port-of-Spain, on Tuesday.

Anna-Lisa Paul

Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh said T&T must maintain strict protocols to avoid worsening our COVID-19 status.

Globally, the total number of cases have crossed 4.3 million while the death rate has climbed towards 300,000.

The minister again reminded the population that they must continue employing certain measures to ensure they remain virus-free as they go about their daily business.

Of the total of 2,413 tests conducted up to midday yesterday, 342 were repeated tests.

Positive cases remained at 116; while deaths remained at eight, and only one patient remained hospitalised at Caura Hospital in an ambulatory condition.

At the UWI Debe Campus, a total of 70 persons remained quarantined – while 14 persons are at the Cascadia Hotel, St Ann’s. This contingent includes 12 Cuban nurses and two returning nationals.

As T&T moves to ramp up testing locally, Deyalsingh said authorities now had 10,000 PCR testing kits.

Meanwhile, 792 persons have so far been tested at the community level and were found to be negative.

Providing an update on the establishment of local testing facilities, Deyalsingh said Tobago had received the machines and testing kits, whilst training and validation exercises continued.

He assured, “By next week, Tobago will be able to start their own testing, using a GeneXpert machine which utilises the same PCR technology that CARPHA is using and we are using in Trinidad.”

However, he said explained this was not a high-throughput machine like the ones used by CARPHA but with the ability to conduct three tests per hour, Deyalsingh said it, “Will be sufficient for emergency use in Tobago.”

With elective surgeries due to restart this week, the minister said it will resume on a phased basis and patients will be contacted based on a priority need.

Appealing for the public’s understanding and patience as it related to the phased resumption of economic activity during the first phase which runs from May 10 to May 23, Deyalsingh said while they have been criticised for being too cautious, it was necessary to take things slow as he called for a level of sobriety in the public’s thinking.

Insisting that all returning persons to T&T would be subject to local quarantine protocols, Deyalsingh said nothing was being taken for granted as the authorities wanted to continue protecting the population.

He also advised that all migrants – regardless of nationality – would receive the requisite treatment at hospital once they are found to be ill.