The numbers released by the Ministry of Health yesterday tell the grim story of the worsening COVID-19 crisis in this country—two additional deaths bringing the overall toll to 191 and 3,236 active cases adding to the burden on the health system.

But the full impact of COVID-19 in all its tragic dimensions is not fully expressed in those numbers, frightening as they are. The statistics being churned out with mind-numbing frequency of late, as the pandemic continues to ravage our nation, gloss over the aspects of human suffering brought on by the deadly disease.

Those cold, hard figures do not reveal the heart-wrenching details about the latest victims of the coronavirus in T&T, like the Siparia father and son who died within hours of each other, or the new mother who succumbed just months after giving birth.

They do not reveal the human faces of the increasing numbers of previously healthy and active young people suddenly struck down, struggling for every single breath until there is none left, and then they die.

The full impact on communities and the country, as more people are suddenly subtracted from our productive sectors, will become clearer as the weeks and months unfold, revealing the full picture of all that this country is losing to the disease.

Just a few days into May 2021, a month that will live on in infamy as among the deadliest in this country’s public health history, the pain of the newly orphaned and widowed and a growing number of bereaved friends and loved ones casts a pall over our twin islands.

And the nightmare is far from over.

So, it is hard to fathom, amid all this loss and pain, that so many of our citizens are still living in pandemic denial, dismissing all the reports about sickness and death as a grand conspiracy theory.

Preferring misinformation and disinformation to proven science, they make up the unmasked, undisciplined congregating masses facilitating the spread of the constantly mutating coronavirus.

And as the pandemic situation in T&T worsens, this country is now actively contributing to a gloomy global projection of the loss of more than 20.5 million years of life before COVID-19 is brought under control. This is according to a study by researchers from a university in Barcelona, who calculated the estimated years lost for more than 1.2 million deaths from COVID-19 across 81 different countries. Years lost were calculated as the difference between a victim’s age at death and the average life expectancy within their country.

In our corner of the world, the Americas, hospitalisations and deaths of younger people are surging due to a new wave of COVID-19.

Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) director Carissa Etienne says close to 40 per cent of all global COVID deaths reported last week took place in this region. More than 1.3 million people in the Americas—almost the total population of T&T— were infected in the last week and more than 36,000 of them died from COVID-related complications.

And behind all these numbers, there are the hundreds of untold stories about lives cut short and families suddenly deprived of loved ones by COVID-19. These are facts that should not be ignored.