Health authorities are concerned over increase in COVID cases in Trinidad and Tobago.

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Dr. Maryam Abdool-Richards

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad – Trinidad and Tobago health authorities Wednesday pleaded with nationals to get vaccinated, reiterating earlier concerns that unvaccinated patients were occupying most, if not all of the beds in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) at hospitals across the country.

Trinidad and Tobago have recorded 1,794 deaths and 59 963 positive cases of the coronavirus (COVID-19) since March last year. The country is now experiencing an increase in the number of critically ill people as it deals with the impact of the Delta Variant of the virus.

Principal Medical Officer- Institutions, Dr. Maryam Abdool-Richards, speaking at the Ministry of Health COVID-19 news conference, told reporters that over the past 23 days, the number of patients seeking ICU treatment had increased significantly.

She said that of the 52 ICU beds occupied in Trinidad, 46 were claimed by unvaccinated patients or not fully vaccinated patients.

“In intensive care units. This morning there are 52 beds out of a total of 60 beds that are operational and activated in Trinidad. In Tobago, two out of five beds are currently occupied.

“We continue to see a significant percentage of unvaccinated or persons who are not fully vaccinated requiring intensive unit level care and this morning out of the 52 persons in Trinidad and Tobago who are in the ICU, 46 of them which is 92 percent are not fully vaccinated,” she said.

The senior medical official said Trinidad and Tobago had crossed a threshold of hospital occupancy, reaching a high of 427 patients, the highest noted within the past 113 days.

“This morning, we have now crossed another threshold. Between June 28 and yesterday, there were less than 400 patients per day in the parallel healthcare system.

“Yesterday, that number of 400 was crossed, there were 405, and this morning there are 427 persons in the parallel healthcare facilities. It also means that our occupancy was consistently surpassed over the past few days, and that is our overall occupancy levels, which were under 40 percent for 113 days.

“This morning we are at 47 percent overall occupancy, and in Trinidad, we are at 49 percent while in Tobago we are at 43 percent,” Dr. Abdool-Richards said, adding that 52 additional patients were awaiting transfer at varying Accident and Emergency (A&E) departments throughout the country, early Wednesday.

She said of these 52; seven required ICU treatment.

“As of this 8.00 am morning, there were 52 persons who were awaiting transfer from accident and emergency departments in the traditional Regional Health Authorities. This is a significant increase in numbers over the last week. Of those 52 persons, seven are receiving intensive unit level care in the accident and emergency.

“Patients continue to present to the accident and emergency in a severe and critical condition. So, when the ambulance is contacted to collect these persons, they must be placed on oxygen. Upon arrival at the accident and emergency departments, they have to start receiving intensive care unit management.

“Of the seven currently receiving ICU level of care, all seven are not fully vaccinated. This is a consistent trend we have noted in the past 23 days since the increased number of persons accessing the A&Es has been noted,” Dr. Abdool-Richards said.

She told reporters that to address this situation, the Ministry has taken several initiatives to increase treatment capacity even as frontline doctors were pleading with the population to be vaccinated.

“Ladies and gentlemen, the Ministry of Health, the RHA (Regional Health Authorities) teams, our frontline doctors have been trying our utmost best to save lives. Every morning we speak to our doctors on the frontline; they are appealing to you to please take the Ministry on the offer of vaccinations.

“We are doing all in our ability to manage the increased demand of ICU beds. We increased the capacity at the accident and emergency departments to treat patients who arrive and are too unstable to be transferred even if a bed is available. We have increased the number of life support ambulances on each shift.

“We increased ICU bed capacity at the Couva Multi-training facility, the Point Fortin Hospital, the St. James Medical Complex. We added ward-level beds, reactivated the field hospital out of the Port of Spain Hospital at the North-West Regional Health Authority. We are trying our utmost best, but if we continue on this trend, resources will soon be extended,” said Dr. Abdool-Richards.

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