Minister: New COVID cases worrying

Six of the 305 people who started their 14-day quarantine on Friday on board the Enchantment of the Seas cruise ship docked in T&T waters have tested positive for the COVID-19.

The numbers were confirmed in the Ministry of Health’s clinical update Sunday afternoon.

Earlier that day, the ministry announced that one person from the group had tested positive.

At that time, the release said that 308 tests were done onboard the ship but only 153 results had been released.

That release stated that 155 test results were pending.

Those pending results were received Sunday afternoon, showing five more positive cases.

Three hundred nationals remain onboard the vessel, continuing their quarantine.

Guardian Media understands that the six crew members were removed from the vessel by Coast Guard officers and taken to the Caura Hospital for treatment.

These positive cases now bring the combined total of cases to 123, with 3385 people having been tested. From the 123 positive cases, 109 patients have recovered and eight have died.

Guardian Media reached out to one of the cruise ship crew members who are still on the vessel in quarantine.

The crew member said the vessel has adequate facilities to accommodate the quarantine.

“Each crew member is in his /her own room with explicit instructions that they are not to leave. Everyone understands what’s at stake here….and everyone is willing to comply so that we can get this behind us,” the crew member said.

She said the crew members are not new to the quarantine process or social distancing requirements as this has become the norm over the past two- and- a- half months.

Asked if there was fear among the remaining group with the news of the six positive cases, the crew member said, “I can’t really answer this as there is pretty much no interaction between crew members so I cannot say with certainty how others feel. However, I would imagine that people are concerned for our colleagues who have tested positive, and hope that they receive the medical care that they need to facilitate recovery.”

In an interview with Guardian Media, Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh said while the new cases are worrying, the parallel healthcare facilities for treatment of COVID-positive patients are nowhere near capacity.

On Saturday, at a press conference, Deyalsingh said the quarantine facilities were nearing capacity, which restricts how many nationals will be allowed to return home in the coming weeks.

He said the Government expected that when large groups were brought in, there would be positive cases.

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