People wait outside the Scarborough Health Centre to receive the Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine yesterday.

Operations at the Scarborough General Hospital narrowed and more bed space added as COVID-19 cases continue to rise in Tobago.

Tobago Regional Health Authority (TRHA) officials hosted a media briefing yesterday where they described health indications on the island as “discouraging during the past week”.

The island recorded a staggering 58 new cases, three deaths with 99 active cases over the last seven days.

This reflected an increase from 11.7 per cent to 19.3 per cent in the number of positive cases on the island.

“The seven-day average as of May 18 stands at nine cases per day this is an increase from 5.2 cases last week when we spoke. This is the highest recorded on the island since the pandemic began,” Medical Chief of Staff at the Scarborough General Hospital, Dr Victor Wheeler said.

Dr Wheeler said several services being offered at the Scarborough General Hospital have been deferred to reduce the flow of people at the hospital.

Currently, all severely ill positive COVID-19 people are treated at the intensive care unit at the hospital.

According to Dr Wheeler, “The aim of this deferment of service is to reduce the flow of persons coming to the hospital so that we have deferred the outpatient clinics and we have actually only emergency surgeries. The Accident and Emergency is still functioning so we are catering for all those persons who may have an emergency or an accident.”

The Medical Chief of Staff said people who usually access pharmacy services are also advised that prescriptions will be renewed at the pharmacy for a limited period.

Secretary for Health Wellness and Family Development Tracy Davidson-Celestine said steps will also be taken to expand the island’s healthcare capacity.

“By this weekend we will see an increase in the numbers offered. In this particular instance, we expect to see 40 or so beds added to what is already existing.”

According to Davidson-Celestine, the division also launched a hotline to facilitate applications for social grants and to also provide psychological help for people who feel overwhelmed.

Thus far “178 emergency food vouchers have been distributed and 99 people have accessed counselling services”.

She said another ambulance will be added to the COVID-19 response and the TRHA will also move to acquire an additional PCR testing machine.

She said the division will also consider occupying space at the new Roxborough Hospital if the need arises on the island. And while staff at the hospital have been re-deployed to meet the needs at Scarborough Hospital, the division will also look at employing additional medical staff.

General Manager of Primary Care, Dr Roxanne Mitchell also announced that so far 4,216 Tobagonians have been vaccinated. Of that figure 433 out of a total of approximately 2,000 healthcare professionals have been vaccinated.

She said the island received 3,000 doses of the Sinopharm vaccines from the central government and distribution began at all three vaccination sites on the island yesterday.