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Medical personel in the COVID-19 tent at the Port-of-Spain General Hospital, yesterday.

Anna-Lisa Paul

Principal Medical Officer (PMO) Dr Maryam Abdool-Richards is calling on the population to exercise caution and remain vigilant as they go about their daily activities, following recent increases in the number of confirmed cases.

Warning that there had been a slight uptick in the seven-day rolling average which now stood at 209, she explained, “If we continue with the uptick in cases and it becomes a trend, we are at risk of crossing that threshold pattern that we crossed in the middle of May, where we went beyond our safety zone of 75 per cent, and although the parallel healthcare system was resilient and held, there was a potential for collapse.”

Although hospital occupancy levels are currently less than 40 per cent since July 15, she said with the increase in the seven-day rolling average – this meant, “An increased number of confirmed cases will result in an increased number of hospitalisations, which may result in adverse events such as severe illness and unfortunately death.”

Confirming there are nine hospitals in the parallel healthcare system to treat severely and critically ill patients, Abdool-Richards said these patients have a greater of risk of being transferred into the High Dependency Units (HDU) or the Intensive Care Units (ICU), “where of course the risk of them having an adverse event like severe illness due to long stay, or death, increases.”

Concerned about the uptick they had noted this past week, especially given the context of the Delta variant among the population, the PMO said another point of concern has been the ratio of severely and critically ill patients to recovering patients.

Abdool-Richards said, “As of this week, again we’ve noticed a data point where there are now four times as many severely and critically ill patients in the parallel healthcare system to recovering patients.”

“There are implications for this new uptick as far as the risk of development or the risk of a person transitioning to ICU and HDU, and also from the parallel healthcare system’s resource side, an increased demand for resources, which of course will ultimately be limited.”

Hospital occupancy levels at all 16 facilities under the parallel healthcare system currently stands at 35 per cent.

Trinidad has an occupancy level of 35 per cent, while in Tobago, it is 41 per cent.

Up to yesterday morning, the ICU occupancy was 88 per cent. And with the average ICU occupancy remaining above 80 per cent, Abdool-Richards said this means eight out of ten ICU beds continue to be filled.