More virus cases in Trinidad, Jamaica, Belize, Haiti
Port of Spain – Trinidad and Tobago has recorded ten new cases of the coronavirus (COVID-19) as the authorities here insist that there is no outbreak of a virus in the twin island republic even as new cases were being reported on a daily basis for the past two weeks.
The Ministry of Health in its daily bulletin said that seven of the cases are “contacts of recent COVID-19 patients” and that the other three are pending epidemiological investigation.
As a result of the new cases, the total number of positive cases of the virus here has jumped to 192 with the number of people dying as a result remaining at eight.
The Trinidad and Tobago Unified Teachers Association (TTUTA) has since called for the closure of all primary schools.
However, Chief medical officer, Dr Roshan Parasram said while his office has offered guidelines to the Ministry of Education on schools, it is ultimately up to that ministry to make a decision.
Epidemiologist, Dr Avery Hinds said that the number of people exposed to COVID-9 through these schools was a running tally, as contact tracing had been expanded. He said where a school is involved, it can be automatically assumed that a couple of hundred people are compromised when primary, secondary and tertiary contacts are considered.
“One individual may have five or six primary contacts, and each of those in turn may have around the same number. With each ring outward that you move, there is an additional multiplicative factor.
“We are still collecting information on the absolute numbers that have been directly identified as compromised, and as soon as we have a finalised number, we will make that information available,” he said.
Minister of Health Terrence Deyalsingh said Trinidad and Tobago was not experiencing an outbreak of the virus and the country will be represented at a virtual meeting on COVID-19 in Latin America and the Caribbean on Wednesday.
He said the virtual meeting, “Accelerating Access To COVID-19 tools in Latin America and the Caribbean”, is being held to discuss and promote regional and international co-operation on vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics.
“Trinidad and Tobago has to understand how the multilateral architecture is developing, and we want to be a part of it,” Deyalsingh said.
In Haiti, the authorities have reported one new death and 35 cases of the virus.
In a statement, the Ministry of Public Health said that the death occurred in the North Department, bringing the total to 166, while there are 7 711 cases of the virus throughout the French-speaking Caribbean Community (CARICOM) country.
It said that there were 2 713 active cases and the authorities are also investigating 18 949 cases since the first case was detected on March 19.
In Jamaica, the authorities are reporting a record increase in the number of positive COVID-19 hospitalisations, noting that total hospitalisation, including confirmed and suspected positive cases stands at 35.
The country also recorded 11 new positive cases over the last 24 hours, bringing the total to 905.
The newly confirmed cases are six females and five males with ages ranging from six to 76 years and the COVID-19 case record for Jamaica now includes 341 imported cases; 258 cases are contacts of confirmed cases; 44 are local transmission cases not epidemiologically linked; and 236 are related to the workplace cluster. There have been 12 deaths.
Meantime, Belize’s Prime Minister Dean Barrow has hinted at the possibility of imposing a lockdown on San Pedro after a woman tested positive for the virus with no travel history.
“The situation in Ambergris Caye; in fact, the situation in several areas is extremely worrying. The Minister of Health; how many people you tested in Corozal? Forty persons have to be tested in Corozal. In San Pedro, as we know, there is one person already confirmed positive. One institution got in touch to say four out of seven employees of that institution—I won’t call the name – on San Pedro are showing symptoms – and not mild symptoms; they have lost their sense of smell, fever,” Barrow said.
He said that the person who has already proved positive, “is in an occupation where she has to entertain, she has to deal with a host of people”.
“So the mapping and tracing, the tracing and tracking exercise that the ministry will do in my view is likely to produce several more positive cases in San Pedro. You think we will hesitate to quarantine San Pedro if it turns out that that is what is necessary after the tracing and tracking exercise has been completed?”
Barrow said he was also frustrated at what he termed border jumpers, who continue to present serious threats.
He told legislators that most of the people infected with COVID-19 are either border jumpers or have been in contact with someone who crossed illegally.
He warned that if the “grave situation worsens”, the government will be forced to shut down the country again.
“Look at how absolutely undisciplined. Look at how absolutely heedless and oblivious our own people are to what we have put in place locally before you talk about the arrival of tourists. Half of the people who have gotten COVID-19 in this country, they have gotten it why? Because of either being border jumpers themselves or mingling with border jumpers.
“The bottom line is, Madam Speaker, while the Leader of the Opposition is right and we have to learn to live with this thing. When our own behaviour will provoke a situation in which we are swamped we are going to have to go back to lockdown if this continues.
“Initially, in particular areas. Ultimately, if we don’t stop and get our act together the whole country is going into lockdown again. What is that going to do to our economy? Madam Speaker let me not appear to be quarrelling with the Belizean public but it is upsetting,” he added.
Belize has so far reported 57 cases and two deaths from the virus. (CMC)