Having recently confirmed the country’s second COVID-19 case, Trinidad and Tobago’s Ministry of Health held a press conference on the afternoon of March 14, 2020, to update citizens on the current situation and the mitigation measures being used.
Minister of Health Terrence Deyalsingh described the government’s response to the COVID-19 situation as “forceful” and “decisive”, ever since it instituted its first travel restriction on January 30, adding that the two main hospitals designated to treat cases of the disease were Caura (reputed for its specialisation in treating respiratory conditions) and Couva, located in central Trinidad.
Should case numbers surge, he added, the Arima hospital in the northern part of the country would provide additional capacity.
The thoracic medical director at Caura Hospital, Dr. Michelle Trotman, reported that the country’s initial COVID-19 case, a 52-year-old man, was improving; doctors expect him to achieve a full recovery.
Though the prognosis of the second patient, a 66-year-old man, is more serious, he too is reportedly improving.
Explaining that the virus spreads via access to the mucosa lining found in the eyes, nose and mouth, Trotman reinforced the need for people to be vigilant about hand washing and social distancing, saying, “If it can’t get in, it can’t be a disease.”
This, she said, would require a change in culture, as Trinbagonians tend to be “touchy/feely”.
While most people who may contract COVID-19 will experience mild, flu-like symptoms, Trotman warned that seniors and immune-compromised people must be wary.
She also advised that the ministry has developed a questionnaire aimed at helping to screen suspected cases, and that the public should feel confident in the preparedness and capacity of the public health system.
As it stands, suspected cases are being tested via nasopharyngeal swabs.