A 43-year-old man who checked into the Arima Health Facility on Sunday is the latest covid19 case.
At the Ministry of Health’s covid19 press briefing on Monday, officials confirmed that the man went to the hospital on Sunday after feeling ill and tested positive. As a result, primary contacts were identified and swabbed, and secondary contacts were also identified and advised to go into quarantine.
But public health officials raised concern that the man, a delivery driver, had gone for six days without going to a hospital, and, contrary to public health advice, he did not stay at home.
As a result several people and companies have to be contacted and if necessary tested for the virus.
Principal medical officer of epidemiology Dr Naresh Nandram said at least eight people lived with him, one of whom is an SEA student at Tacarigua Presbyterian School. The school has since been closed for sanitation and contact tracing has begun.
The latest case raised concern over people going out to work while they are sick. Nandram stressed that if people are sick, they should stay home.
“Whether it is just a little fever or sore throat – it is either you are ill or you are not. Even if you have very minor symptoms, I encourage you to please stay home and reach out to get tested,” Nandram said.
He added that in some cases people may have the disease but not exhibit any symptoms. So he encouraged everyone to wear masks and sanitise whenever possible.
Epidemiologists raised concern over possible gaps in the contact tracing system, and urged people being questioned to be as open and forthcoming as possible.
The technical director of the Epidemiology Division, Dr Avery Hinds, said transparency in contact tracing is one of the main concerns to bear in mind during the process.
“That is why we will ask questions, We will come back and ask again in a different way. We will provide cues to jog memory.
“It is sometimes quite difficult to remember all the places that people may have visited.”
Hinds said one way public health officials have tried to plug the gaps is through the hotline, where people have called in to say they may have been in contact with a person who tested positive for the virus.
Nandram said the ministry intends to include serological tests to support the tests currently being done.
“What this will tell us is whether or not someone in the past, outside the testing window of the PCR (polymerase chain reaction) test, has been exposed and subsequently recovered. What the situation is likely to be in the future is that people will be subject to two tests.”
The epidemiologists were careful not to define the newest cases as local spread. Hinds described the cases as sporadic.
The doctors are still trying to find out where the new sporadic cases are coming from. They said there was not enough evidence to suggest they may have come from illegal immigrants.
“We do not have a clear or concrete answer to where the cases would have come from.
“We start from where the cases are and trace backwards, while we trace outwards to limit spread. In doing so we collect information on exposures in various settings to various groups of people, and in doing so we try to find out how people are exposed.
“We are doing so at this time, and as we do not have definitive information, we cannot give a definitive answer,” Hinds said.
Minister of Health Terrence Deyalsingh said the most important thing that people have to remember is to wear their masks to prevent the spread of the virus.
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