Three CARICOM countries record COVID deaths

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Trinidad and Tobago, Suriname, and Guyana recorded deaths associated with the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic over the past 24 hours several other Caribbean countries were reporting increased cases of the virus.

The Ministry of Health in Port of Spain said that two people died, bringing the total deaths to 150. There are also 82 new cases, and active cases are now 685.

The ministry said that of the 82 cases, three are people who were recently repatriated. New cases continued to increase, as seen over the past week and a half. The new positive cases come from samples taken between April 12 and 14.

Of the active cases, 78 are in hospital; five are in step-down facilities, 331 in state quarantine, and 520 in-home self-isolation.

There have been 8,678 cases since March 2020, of whom 7,843 have recovered.

In Suriname, the authorities said the eighth corona death was registered and that 185 people have now died from the virus.

They said in the past 24 hours, of the 222 people tested,  41 tested positives. The Dutch-speaking Caribbean Community (CARICOM) country has 9,458 persons who have tested positive. The number of people healed is 8,751, including 26 in the past 24 hours. Twelve corona patients are cared for in intensive care units and 39 people in hospitals. Furthermore, there are 116 positively tested civilians in isolation.

Guyana on Thursday recorded one of the highest numbers of positive COVID-19 infections from a total of 2 478 tests. 153 new cases were recorded, taking the overall number of confirmed cases from March 2020 to 11 527.

In Region Four, where several COVID-19 hotspots were identified on the East Bank Demerara, East Coast Demerara, and Georgetown, a total of 82 new infections were recorded.

Region Three followed this with 31 new cases; Region Nine recorded 10 new cases. Region Seven saw nine new cases while Region Ten recorded seven new cases, and Regions One and Two recorded one new case each.

Earlier on Thursday, the Ministry of Health confirmed the death of a 96-year-old Aishalton, Region Nine resident, taking the country’s death toll to 263.

A total of 135 new recoveries were also recorded, taking the total recoveries to 10 015.

There are 10 patients in the COVID-19 Intensive Care Unit at the Infectious Diseases Hospital; 78 patients are in institutional isolation and 1, 161 patients are in the home quadrant.

In Bermuda, which has been hit by a massive surge this month, authorities have now recorded more than 2,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases after a 17th person died from the disease.

The island, currently under a seven-day lockdown to try to curb the spread of the virus,  reached the “ominous” milestone after 37 new cases were reported out of 1,528 test results received on Thursday.

A total of 806 cases — Premier David Burt among them — of the 2,023 since March of last year have arrived in the first 15 days of April, during which five people have succumbed to the disease. None of the victims has been identified by health officials.

There are currently 866 active cases and 42 people in the hospital, with five in intensive care.

“We’ve hit the ominous mark of 2,000 people having confirmed positive for the coronavirus since our recording process began in 2020,” said Minister of Health Kim Wilson.

“I wish to remind the public about the testing process. Specifically, if you are in quarantine or positive, you must get tested on day 14 – not before. On another important note, with community transmission – personal exemptions are not given unless there are extraordinary, exceptional circumstances.

“I say this because we’ve been inundated with exemption requests. And I must stress that the vast majority of these requests will not be approved.

“We must recognize that we are under a stay-at-home order for a reason. We had to introduce a short, sharp break to stop the transmission of the virus. This means we have to stop the mixing of individuals in different households, in the workplace, and in all other locations where people may gather,” she said.

One of the new cases is classified as imported by a non-resident who arrived from London on March 30 and tested positive on the day 14 test.

Nineteen of the new cases are classified as local transmission with known contact associated with known cases, while the additional 17 new cases are classified as under investigation.

Thirty-one percent of residents have been fully vaccinated so far, while 40 percent have had their first jab, Wilson announced.

Wilson has called on doctors to volunteer to administer vaccines to help the government ramp up its vaccination drive to get close to its herd immunity target by the Bermuda Day holiday on May 28.

A special exemption for constructing a St George’s resort to continue during lockdown has been scrapped after two days, the developers said on Wednesday. Construction bosses had asked why work at St Regis was being allowed to carry on when other projects have had to stop in the face of soaring COVID-19 cases.

But the developer, Hotel, said permission for the building to continue during lockdown had been abruptly pulled.

“We received an exemption from the government of Bermuda after long conversations with the Premier (David Burt) and his team,” according to a spokesman.

National Security Minister Renee Ming said the approval had been “made in error.”

The 120-room hotel is due to open next month. Permission has been given by the government for an international sailing tournament next week to be televised globally.

Despite the lockdown, the island’s international airport remains open.

In Barbados, Health and Wellness Minister, Lieutenant Colonel Jeffrey Bostic, has spoken of the COVID-19 cluster in the north of the island.

“We would have reported in the north of the country, a church cluster. That cluster is now at about 22 or 23 positives over the last couple of weeks or so, and we would have had about two more today…. The cluster comprises members of the church, as well as family members and close associates.

“But we’ve also discovered that apart from that particular grouping that this cluster has also impacted on about three other institutions.  One, to the tune of about another 10 positives, and then one each at the other two institutions, and so there are some linkages there,” Bostic stated.

The health minister reinforced the need to continue cooperating in following the protocols to avoid such situations, especially with the ash fall from the La Soufrière volcano in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, which has enveloped the island.

Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley, who supported Bostic in his call for persons to continue following the protocols, said: “the fact that this incident has happened, where people remain stubborn and not want to cooperate, or inclined their hearts to wisdom, causes us to be in a position where other institutions have been put at risks today, in my view, unnecessarily so.”

Mottley urged the public to “continue to pull together” in the fight against the coronavirus and noted that the vaccination program had restarted but had to be suspended because of the ashfall.

“When we are in a position to receive more, we shall do so and continue that because that continues to be our primary battle still as we go forward,” she stated.

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