UNC calls for covid update in aftermath of Carnival

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Dr Tim Gopeesingh –

Dr Tim Gopeesingh wants to know if reports of an increase in covid 19 cases in the aftermath of Carnival have any sound basis. In a statement on Thursday, the former Caroni East MP said he had information relating to an increase in hospitalisation and deaths owing to covid19 and other respiratory infections at public hospitals.

Given Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh’s January announcement of an increase in the incidence of covid from December 2023-January 2024, as well as the deaths of six patients, Gopeesingh said a spike was expected post-Carnival.

He called on Deyalsingh to urgently provide a status update on covid19 infections and related deaths. Critical of government’s handling of the recent pandemic, Gopeesingh said citizens must not be left like “sitting ducks” in the event of another health crisis.

Gopeesingh surmised, “It is to be expected therefore, that covid cases have increased in the past month, especially due to the recent influx of thousands of foreign visitors to our shores for the 2024 Carnival season, as well as the participation of tens of thousands of citizens in the various events.”

Neither Deyalsingh nor chief medical officer Dr Roshan Parasram answered Newsday’s calls for an update.

Expressing concern about a reported increase in patients being admitted to hospital for serious and lower-respiratory-tract infections, Gopeesingh said there must be some clarity as to the cause, given the presence of Sahara dust, which has been known to cause serious respiratory illnesses.

He said he has also been reliably informed that major hospitals were increasing their stock of oxygen cylinders and questioned whether there was a correlation with the uptick in reported covid cases.

“It is, therefore, now incumbent on the Health Minister to urgently provide the population with a detailed update of the latest status of covid infections and related deaths, as well as details of the number of citizens being treated for respiratory viruses and Sahara dust infections in our nation’s hospitals and health centres.”

Another issue requiring urgent clarification, he said, was reports of rapid changing of mattresses at public hospitals. He said this should be viewed in the context of proper procurement procedures being adopted to ensure transparency and accountability.