TT is seeing its first few cases of local spread as TT’s covid19 positive figures increased to 83.
Of the five new cases, two were caused by local spread Chief Medical Officer (CMO) Dr Roshan Parasram said at the Health Ministry’s first virtual press conference on Monday. TT can also expect more local spread cases in the coming days. Parasram and Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh spoke to this and a number of other issues at the conference.
He said after TT had its first covid19 case on March 12, over the last two weeks there was an increase in the number of imported cases. After the importation phase and primary and secondary cases, Parasram said the next phase was low volume local spread.
But over the last 24 hours, TT had two cases that suggested local spread, one in Tobago and one in Trinidad. He said, however, that one was pending epidemiological investigation. Parasram said clinicians had to go back to the sources to rule out completely that there was no link to a previous case or there was no history of travel or contact with a traveller in that case.
“But looking at both cases on the surface of it, it seems like these two cases may very well be our first few cases of local spread,” he said. He distinguished between local and community spread, saying that local spread is expected right after importation.
He defined local spread further saying it was somebody who was unlinked. He said, “You could have been expressing symptoms, left your home, gone to a supermarket and come in close contact with someone that you would not have known and that person now develops symptoms. That is what we call a local case or a hidden case.
“I believe we may have a couple, if not a few more over the next couple days.” He defined community spread as a large number of local cases, all of them communicating heavily and spreading it among large segments of the community or population. He said TT has not gotten to the stage of community spread but was seeing the first few cases of local spread which was normally part of the epidemiological evolution.
He added that the time had come for TT to behave as a society where one must assume that the person next to them has covid19. Like Parasram, Deyalsingh urged citizens to obey the stay at home rules.
Deyalsingh said Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) tested 539 people for covid19 and there were four new positive cases that brought the new total to 82 positive cases. He said 49 of the 82 were from one source: the cruise passengers. He said TT’s case load is 62.4 per million. He added that the global average is 102.29 per million with TT being over half of the global average. “And this number of 62.4 per million will only rise,” he said.
He said the next two weeks will be a crucial time for TT, depending on how people respond to the Ministry of Health’s orders. He said TT’s healthcare system is robust in terms of facilities, personnel and equipment. “We continue to test and trace. So those are two legs on which a three-legged stool is built.”