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Rishard [email protected]

There have been more COVID-19 cases confirmed in the past week than over the entire month of February with over half coming in within the past two days only.

This after the Ministry of Health confirmed 44 more cases yesterday from samples collected between March 30 and April 1. It also brought the total number of active cases up to 347. Between Sunday and Friday, 162 COVID-19 cases were confirmed compared to 149 cases for February.

Over the past few weeks, health officials have been warning that cases were on the rise and advising citizens to be vigilant.

In a more recent warning, Chief Medical Officer Dr Roshan Parasram said the current trajectory of cases resembles closely that of cases just before August 2020 which saw the biggest explosion in cases to date and led to over 100 fatalities. “You will see they look very similar if not exactly the same and that is a concern. It means we’re beginning to upsurge again and we want to stop that peak going all the way up like we saw in August and September of 2020,” he said on Thursday. During the peak, September recorded over 50 COVID-19 related deaths. He also indicated that the rise in cases wasn’t the only concerning factor but also the rate at which the virus was spreading. The ministry is so concerned about this factor that it now includes local samples for variant monitoring. “We started a couple of weeks ago when we had the increase in Caroni and Victoria to actually do some sequencing of the local cases just to make sure none of the persons we’re picking up the variant as well. Because we see a quicker rate of spread than we would have anticipated at this point in time so we have sent those across to the UWI lab via CARPHA (Caribbean Public Health Agency) for sampling,” he said then. Before this, only samples collected from repatriated nationals were being monitored. He noted they are yet to detect any variant of concern in circulation locally. On Thursday, Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley warned that another national lockdown would be implemented if numbers continue to rise.

However, he reiterated that the Government cannot afford to provide financial relief to affected citizens as it did at the start of the pandemic. The increasing cases prompted the Minister of Health to reimplement restrictions on contact sports.

Gatherings associated with these sports, bars and religious institutions have been implicated in contributing to the recent spread.