25 die from respiratory illnesses since January

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Covid19 vaccines – AP PHOTO

The Health Ministry said 21 people have died from covid19 since the beginning of 2024. Four deaths have been recorded as a result of influenza.

In a statement on March 1, the ministry said 12 people were hospitalised at the San Fernando General Hospital and the Couva Hospital & Multi-Training Facility.

In 2023, there were 64 deaths from covid19 over the same period, with 765 recorded in 2022 and 519 in 2021.

The ministry reminded the public that Trinidad and Tobago received confirmation of local transmission of the JN.1 sub-variant category, on January 18. The JN.1 sub-variant, a descendant of the omicron variant, is the dominant variant across the world.

The Ministry said it continues to actively pursue the acquisition of covid19 vaccines and will provide an update upon its arrival into the country.

It said to date, 39,450 influenza vaccines have been administered and continues to urge the population, particularly the immunocompromised and the vulnerable to get vaccinated. Influenza vaccines are available free of charge at health centres.

The ministry said people belonging to vulnerable groups are more prone to severe outcomes if they contract covid19 and/or influenza. Therefore, the elderly, pregnant women, immunocompromised people and those with chronic non-communicable diseases (NCDs) are advised to exercise greater caution at this time.

The ministry said it has not seen any notable increase in severe respiratory illnesses within the public health system.

However, the public is advised that those suffering from respiratory illnesses of any kind should take the necessary precautions, especially in light of ongoing poor air quality owing to the presence of Sahara dust in the atmosphere.

These people are encouraged to wear the appropriate masks such as surgical masks or N95 masks, as required, to reduce the risk of exacerbation of existing respiratory illnesses.

The ministry advised people to wash their hands regularly with soap and water or clean them with alcohol-based hand sanitisers (containing at least 70 per cent alcohol), regularly clean and sanitise high-touch surfaces, avoid sharing personal items like utensils, water bottles, towels and wash rags with others, avoid touching one’s face and eyes with unclean hands, avoid close contact with people who display symptoms of infectious viruses, wear a mask where appropriate, and to stay home if they’re ill.