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Confirmed COVID cases across T&T.

This country’s parallel healthcare system which was set up to deal directly with COVID-19 cases and prevent the traditional health service from becoming overwhelmed is facing a possible collapse within the next ten days if no sharp declines are recorded from measures to stem rapid infection rates.

Principal Medical Officer at the Ministry of Health, Dr Maryam Abdool-Richards yesterday pleaded with citizens to understand the severity of the situation the health sector is now battling, as she said this country was now on the “tipping point” of losing all the strides it had previously achieved to stop the viral spread.

Speaking during yesterday’s media briefing at the Diplomatic Centre, St Ann’s, Abdool-Richards, who formed part of the team advising Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley on what steps needed to be adopted urgently to ensure T&T does not end up like some other countries where hospitals were overwhelmed, appealed to people to adhere to public health regulations to wash hands, social distance, and wear masks.

She said the parallel healthcare system had a maximum capacity of 542 beds spread across seven hospitals to manage COVID-19 patients.

She added that an average of 13.6 per cent of new cases were admitted to hospitals daily, while only 6.6 per cent of hospitalised patients are discharged each day.

Examining cases between March 1 and May 2, Abdool-Richards said they had found that, “14 out of every 100 COVID positive patients need to be admitted to hospital because they are unwell.”

Admitting that a COVID-positive patient may require a variety of care ranging from oxygen provision to intensive care and even hemodialysis in some cases, she said some people will have longer hospitalisation periods than others which could vary from as little as three days to 21 days.

She claimed there had been a significant daily increase in the hospitalisation of people during this last week and explained it was a red flag for authorities as the numbers being admitted far exceeded the numbers being discharged.

“As of this morning (yesterday), the parallel healthcare system has 260 COVID positive patients in hospital which puts it at a 48 per cent capacity. The majority of these patients are in the wards. Within ten days, the parallel healthcare system will become overwhelmed if we continue at this rate,” she said.

She said the fact that hospitals were filling at faster rates than they were being emptied, “is a cause for concern as it means that resources which are limited are now going to be expended and may compromise the quality of care in other areas.”

In presenting the epidemiological update, Dr Avery Hinds also painted a dire picture for T&T as he said they had recorded a steep upward climb in cases during recent weeks resulting in increased hospitalization rates.

As he announced projections from the data collected and analysed so far, Hinds said, “At the current rate of speed, looking at the active cases, we are on track to have alarming numbers of active cases by May 22…looking upwards of 10,000.”

He revealed that maximum hospital capacity with current rates could be reached in as few as seven days or ten days at most.

Hinds said this was a trend they wanted “to curb, halt and reverse.”

Hinds said other trends had been noted where slightly more females were now dying from this virus, while deaths were being recorded in younger people, some of whom were in their 40s and 50s.