The local spread of COVID-19 appears to have already begun in T&T.
Speaking at a virtual press conference hosted by the Ministry of Health, Monday morning, Chief Medical Officer (DMO) Dr Roshan Parasram indicated that the ministry was awaiting the results of epidemiological investigations to determine whether the infections of at least two of the four latest cases, were caused by recent travel history or by coming into contact with a previously confirmed case.
While he noted that such transmissions were anticipated by the ministry in addition to a plethora of imported cases, he noted that they were not to be misclassified as community spread.
“When we talk about community spread, it means that there a large number of local cases and all of them have been communicating heavily and are basically spreading it to large segments of the population. We have not gotten to the stage of community spread but we are seeing the first few cases of local spread, which is normally part of the epidemic evolution,” Parasram said.
“We expect the numbers to increase,” Parasram added.
As of yesterday, there were 83 confirmed cases in T&T. Three people have died locally from the virus.
Parasram reiterated the ministry’s advisories including a mandate for workers of non-essential industries to stay home over the next two weeks and for persons to practice social distancing.
“I think the time has come for us as a society to behave as if the person sitting next to us is positive for COVID-19. It is an invisible pathogen, it is something we cannot see. There are asymptomatic carriers meaning that someone with no symptoms may carry the disease. There is a risk to everyone because we can’t see it,” Parasram said.
During the press conference, Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh indicated that T&T’s current caseload is 62.4 cases per million persons as compared to the global average of 102.92 per million persons.
“The next two weeks, depending on how people respond to the orders that the Ministry of Health has sent out will determine, how this case burden rises from 62.4 per million,” Deyalsingh said.
He was again careful to note that of the 83 positive test results, 49 were passengers of the cruise ship, Costa Favolosa.
Sixty-nine of the passengers, who were T&T nationals, were flown in on a charter flight and were quarantined in Balandra, while smaller groups travelled separately and were quarantined.