No word from Health Ministry on covid protocols

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

TTUTA president Martin Lum Kin –

There is no word yet from the Health Ministry regarding the possible reintroduction of covid protocols in Trinidad despite Tobago already taking action after TT reported five covid deaths and a spike in covid cases in the past three weeks.

On Monday, at the launch of the ministry’s influenza vaccination drive at the Divali Nagar in Endeavour, Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh said the deaths in the last three weeks occurred after almost two months of no covid cases or deaths.

Deyalsingh said two of the covid-related deaths occurred between December 28 and December 31, 2023, while three people died since the start of 2024.

He said nine people are currently hospitalised with covid, including one person in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU).

Tobago House of Assembly (THA) Chief Secretary Farley Augustine announced plans on Wednesday to reintroduce covid protocols at all of the THA’s offices, sub-offices and buildings across the eight divisions as well as other public buildings and offices.

THA’s Division of Education, Research and Technology has also told principals of all schools on the island to prepare to return to protocols, which were in place during and just after the pandemic.

Newsday asked ministry officials if there are any plans to do the same at government offices and schools in Trinidad or if there are plans to hold discussions within the ministry or government on the topic but received no response.

The ministry did offer advice to the general public in the face of the rising cases and deaths.

In a statement, it said, “The Ministry of Health encourages persons to weigh the risk to themselves, their families and their communities, and to take the necessary precautions to safeguard lives.”

It added, “The Ministry will continue to encourage the public to practice good hygiene with the aim of reducing the spread of infectious viruses.”

The Trinidad and Tobago Unified Teachers Association (TTUTA) president Martin Lum Kin is calling on the Ministry of Education to provide clarity on the way forward regarding any possible reintroduction of covid protocols.

Lum Kin said TTUTA has noted media reports of an increase in influenza cases, covid cases and deaths and wants the Education Ministry to urgently advise on the protocols to avoid increased cases or even an outbreak at schools.

He warned that the ministry will have to fund any infrastructure, amenities and cleaning products needed for the reintroduction of protocols as schools have not yet received their full funding for the academic year.

“If we are to now escalate the covid19 protocols, which would include hand washing, sanitisers, and having other protocols in place, then the schools would require the requisite funding in order to put them in place unless the ministry is going to be supplying the schools with these resources.”

“Even if they are, the schools still require a level of funding to have purchases in cleaning materials (and) stationery,” he added.

Lum Kin said whether or not protocols are reintroduced or schools receive funding to do so, teachers should take action to protect themselves and encourage their students to do the same by wearing masks and washing their hands.

“Our educators should be vigilant as it relates to the viruses that are circulating at this time. Should they present themselves with or should these symptoms be present in them?

“We would advise that they seek the necessary medical attention. And especially where persons have immune-compromised challenges or comorbidities, they would need to be extra vigilant and to seek the relevant medical attention.”

Asked if he would encourage teachers to get their flu shot, Lum Kin said this was a “personal decision.”

“Should they be of the belief that this will assist in their fighting or preventing further medical complications, then they are welcome to do so.

“And I know that the Ministry of Health has provided for persons to get these.”