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Health Minister, Terrence Deyalsingh.

Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh says the Brazilian Variant of the coronavirus would have gotten into T&T by people entering the country.

And he said his ministry is looking at all the possible ways it could have entered including Venezuelan migration.

On Monday the country recorded five more cases of the Brazilian variant also called P1, bringing the total number of cases thus far to nine.

Replying to questions in the Senate from Independent Senator Paul Richards, Minister Deyalsingh said as people move so too would the virus.

“Viruses, in general, will get into the country with people movement, once people move the virus moves with them. Once people interact the virus jumps from person to person. In the case of this particular question the P1 variant, it would have come into Trinidad and Tobago by people entering Trinidad and Tobago,” said Minister Deyalsingh.

Senator Richards asked if the ministry has identified other possible methods of the virus entering. Deyalsingh said the method remains the same, “People entering the country, by whatever means.”

Richards asked if the Venezuelan migrant population has been ruled out as a possible source. But Deyalsingh said all possibilities are being examined.

“No, we look at all possibilities and I can say and we have said it publicly the first case of the P1 variant was found in a Venezuelan migrant,” he said.

Replying to Opposition Senator Jayanti Lutchmedial on testing for the P1 strain, Deyalsingh said the University of the West Indies policy on genomics testing is to test all positive repatriated people. In that regard, there have been 284 positive samples based on repatriated nationals sent for testing for Variant of Concern.

Meanwhile, Minister of National Security Fitzgerald Hinds said 82 prison officers are in quarantine after eight inmates and 17 prison officers were confirmed as COVID positive. The inmates are at the Eastern Correctional Rehab centre.

Hinds said the current rate was an improvement from last year’s situation where there were 80 inmates and 250 prison officers who were COVID positive.