Chief Medical Officer Dr Roshan Parasram.

Healthcare workers who have been treating persons with COVID-19 have also tested positive for the virus, Chief Medical Officer Dr Roshan Parasram confirmed yesterday. But one of the CMO’s biggest concerns now is preventing local spread.

Parasram’s confirmation came after the media asked whether a memo sent out at a local hospital, which announced heightened safety measures after a member of staff tested positive for the virus, was authentic.

“There were a few healthcare workers in the system that have tested (positive), as you know we can’t give out details on particular cases but all protocols are being followed with regards to the hospital. There is a policy that guides healthcare workers as to how to isolate, how to actually quarantine if there is exposure in the workplace, what kind of PPE to wear,” Parasram said during yesterday’s COVID-19 press briefing at the Diplomatic Centre in St. Ann’s.

The CMO also confirmed that a total number of 96 people were hospitalised with the disease up to yesterday morning after one new case was admitted to Couva Hospital on Sunday night. Up to last evening, the Ministry of Health said the positive tests remained at 105 with eight confirmed deaths and one patient discharged.

Minister of Health Terrence Deyalsingh repeated that all deaths had been elderly individuals with predisposed conditions.

The CMO also painted a picture of progress concerning the other patients, saying all 26 patients at the Caura Hospital were doing very well, among them the 17 patients transferred there from Couva last Friday.

He also had a sunny outlook for patients at the Couva Hospital.

“Sixty-six of the 70 are doing very well, they are very mild cases. We are actually in the process of earmarking another 14 persons to be taken out of that facility within the next couple days.

“And the remainder of the 66, if they continue to do well, will be taken out of Couva as well. Which would leave a very small number of persons in Couva needing any sort of critical care,” Parasram said.

“There is only one person requiring ICU care, three persons requiring high dependency unit care. If you go back two days ago there would have been 12 persons in the high dependency unit, so those persons would have now been doing much better over the last couple days and they are actually back in the normal wards.”

He also said those quarantined at Balandra were close to returning to their families.

“In terms of Balandra, we have 22 persons that continue to be negative. There are no additional symptoms with any of them today, they are coming close to (the end of) their 14 days, at the end of the week. Once no one develops symptoms in that cohort, they too will be able to be discharged completely and go back home to their families,” he said.

However, Parasram said they were now expecting more local spread cases.

“Sunday midnight would have marked 14 days from when we closed the borders. The 14-day incubation period is a critical point. So basically, what we expect to see, we don’t expect to see people directly linked to travel becoming positive, what we are seeing now is persons who would have been in contact with people that would have travelled, as well as the primary contact of positive cases which is what is coming back from the labs,” he said.

He said they were currently investigating two cases where the potential source of the virus was not clear.

“There are a couple people that are being investigated. There is one in Tobago, one in Trinidad, that I believe may be the hint of local transmission and that is where my concern lies,” Parasram said.