Emergency medical technicians mill around ambulances parked outside the Couva Hospital and Multi-Training Facility after dropping off COVID-19 patients yesterday.

The Ministry of Health said it has only 70 ventilators designated for the treatment of COVID-19 patients.

The figures were confirmed by the Ministry’s Corporate Communications Manager, Candice Alcantara in a statement issued yesterday.

“There are 143 ventilators in total in the country. Seventy of these are dedicated to the COVID-19 response (five in Tobago). Eleven more ventilators are expected.”

According to statistics from the World Health Organisation (WHO), one in every five people who contract COVID will need hospitalisation and may have difficulty breathing.

As of yesterday evening, data from the MOH showed the number of active COVID-positive cases was up to 477. Of that number, three people were listed as being in the Intensive Care Unit. So far, there have been a total of 629 cases with 12 deaths.

Since the MOH announced the creation of the parallel health care system for the treatment of COVID-19, there has been some public concern about the availability of ventilators for patients who are critically ill with COVID.

When asked the number of ventilators on March 23, Health Minister Terrance Deyalsingh said there were 138 in total in the public health care system. He said 12 of those were at the Couva Hospital, with only one in use. Deyalsingh went on to say that 10 more ventilators would be arriving that day and 50 more were expected to arrive by mid-April.

On April 14 in a post on their Facebook page, the Ministry of Communications said there were 69 ventilators dedicated to COVID treatment.

On May 11, four ventilators were delivered to the Tobago Regional Health Authority from a gift of ten ventilators from China.

Those ventilators were placed in the Intensive Care Unit of the Scarborough General Hospital and reserved for the treatment of COVID-19 positive patients.