Highlights from today’s (4.05.2020) Virtual Health Media Conference

  • In case you missed it, here are the key highlights from today’s Virtual Media Conference:
  • Health Minister, Terrence Deyalsingh said it is time that we move away from using the term “social distancing” and start using “physical distancing” as it relates to COVID-19 measures.
  • Chief Medical Officer Dr. Roshan Parasram confirmed that the 33 Nationals at the Tacarigua Convalescent Centre (Barbados group) were re-swabbed on Sunday. The group will finish their 14 days of quarantine tomorrow. If their tests return negative, they will be discharged.
  • Dr. Parasram confirmed that the 69 TT Nationals who returned from Suriname on Friday were swabbed and officials are awaiting results from this group. They remain in quarantine at the Debe Campus.
  • Chief Technical Coordinator at the Ministry of Health, Patti-Ann Williams, addressed natural disasters during the COVID-19 pandemic. The upcoming Hurricane Season is expected to be eventful with at least eight hurricanes (four of which may be Category 3 or higher).
  • Ms. Williams said, among the considerations as we approach the Hurricane/Rainy Season are availability of PPEs since supply chains may be affected, moving elderly and immune-compromised patients to shelters, and bed space capacity at hospitals.
  • Ms. Williams said, hospitals and health facilities will have to be prepared with backup power and water supplies during the upcoming Hurricane Season. The Ministry of Health has also engaged in training for all First Responders, and the population will continue to be educated about implications of the rise of diseases during the Hurricane Season. Ms. Williams noted that evacuation and shelter management could be a challenge, considering COVID-19 measures like social distancing at these facilities.
  • Dr. Parasram added that in the event of a natural disaster, physical distancing at shelters will be difficult to maintain, however wearing of masks, regular sanitation of hard surfaces, including bathrooms and shared areas, as well as enhanced surveillance (thermal scanning, documentation on entry to shelters etc.) will be employed.
  • On Carnival 2021, Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh said that bridge will be crossed when we reach it.
  • Community Testing for COVID-19 has been ongoing, but Dr. Parasram noted that the number of persons going to Health Centres or Public health institutions with viral illnesses and flu symptoms had been low since testing began. This may be as a result of people now following hand hygiene/sanitisation guidelines and exhibiting less flu-like symptoms.
  • Dr. Parasram said the borders will eventually be opened on a phased basis. Some measures being considered when the borders are reopened are using thermal screening for passengers, home isolation for 14 days for some travellers, and State quarantine for high risk travellers.