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The Ministry of Health is currently reviewing the parallel healthcare system set up to deal with the COVId-19 pandemic, Minister Terrence Deyalsingh said yesterday.

Speaking during a virtual press conference, Deyalsingh said he was scheduled to have a meeting with ministry officials later in the day, among them Principal Medical Officer Institutions Dr Maryam Abdool-Richards, to discuss the matter, noting that one of the major goals of the review of the system would be whether one of the facilities currently being used for COVID treatment needed to be removed.

“She (Principal Medical Officer Institutions Dr Maryam Abdool Richards) is meeting and also our Disaster Management Unit is meeting with me at 1.30, together with the Permanent Secretary and the Chief Technical Officer, to do a total review of our parallel healthcare systems in terms of capacity in case we have to take Home of Football out of the grid,” he said.

Deyalsingh said there are also plans to remove the Arima Hospital from the parallel healthcare system and operationalise it for normal care to North East Trinidad once COVID-19 cases remain low.

“The Arima Hospital, where we are keeping our suspect cases, is grossly underutilised. You have about five or ten persons there on any one day in a 100-bed facility,” Deyalsingh said.

“We have a plan, once the numbers hold, that by February, once we get over the Christmas spike which we expect, the old year’s spike, if we conduct ourselves properly over this virtual carnival period, the Arima Hospital can be taken offline and be returned to the people of Arima for its original purpose.”

Deyalsingh said another facility could easily fill the role which the Arima Hospital is currently being used for.

“What we are thinking about doing is suspect cases would find a home at the Augustus Long Hospital – again which is underutilised. We are paying a visit to the Augustus Long Hospital next week Tuesday to see if physically and logistically that can happen,” he said.