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A health worker moves a stretcher outside the COVID-19 unit for suspected patients under tents at the EWMSC, yesterday.

Ministry of Health officials yesterday confirmed an outbreak of COVID-19 at the St Ann’s Psychiatric hospital.

Principal Medical Officer, Institutions Dr Maryam Abdool-Richards said that there are currently 20 confirmed cases at the facility.

“Those patients are being isolated and managed in a similar manner to persons who are receiving treatment for example at the Couva Medical and multi training facility. If they deteriorate and require a higher level of care then the normal Ministry of Health protocols will be applied,” Abdool-Richards said.

Despite that confirmation, Abdool-Richards said that while the parallel health system is strained, it has not yet collapsed.

She gave the information at yesterday’s Ministry of Health COVID-19 update.

Abdool-Richards said another 10 beds have been added to the step-down facility at the UTT Valsayn campus, increasing its capacity from 40 to 50 beds. She said the ministry was also adding another 10 beds to bring the total to 60.

These additional beds in step-down facilities mean that healthier patients will free up bed space for more acutely ill patients to be managed by the parallel health care system. However, the same problem persists, which is, as soon as beds are added, they are filled.

Abdool-Richards yesterday said t the daily rolling average increased again and now stands at 414.

“That is the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 on a daily basis. This is important to note because the greater the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19, the greater the number of persons who require medical care at hospitals in the parallel healthcare system.”

Abdool-Richard said there was still a widening gap between admissions and discharges, which put a strain on the system.

“It’s important to note this increasing trend. The number of confirmed cases that require admission in a hospital is in the vicinity of 18 per 100, while we have a discharge rate of seven per one hundred,” she said.

“This means that every 100 cases that have been confirmed, 11 persons are required to go to a hospital and stay there. That means on average we are seeing an approximate number of 40 additional patients per day,” Abdool-Richards said.

The overall ward occupancy continues to increase and stands at 75 per cent as of yesterday morning. The current ward occupancy in Trinidad alone stands at 67 per cent.

The HDU’s are at maximum capacity and Abdool-Richards said that while they continue to try to convert beds and add staff, the resources have “started to run out”.

The ICU capacity, she said, is at 100 per cent.

Abdool-Richards said the Caura Hospital is at 86 per cent occupancy and the Augustus Long Hospital stood at 92 per cent capacity. The Arima General Hospital was 77 per cent occupied, the St Ann’s facility is at 100 per cent, while the Couva Medical facility, which houses the most critically ill patients is currently at 70 per cent.

Things are not much better at the step-down facilities even with the recently added beds.

Chief Medical Officer (CMO) Dr Roshan Parasram said the beds in the medical tents come with some of the HDU and ICU supported requirements.

“But certain parts of it has to be brought in, which is available in the country,” he said.

Parasram said the final outfitting of the tents would be completed by Wednesday, giving a few additional beds to ICU and HDU.