10 New COVID-19 Cases, 1 New Death Confirmed in T&T in the last 24 hours

The Ministry of Health has confirmed ten (10) additional cases of COVID-19 in Trinidad and Tobago, with one (1) new death in the country on Saturday 28th March 2020. This marks the biggest single-day jump in cases in the country since the group of 40 from the Costa Favolosa cruise.

No additional information has been given on Saturday, in both Update 53 and Update 54 from the Ministry of Health. concerning both the new death and the ten new cases of COVID-19 in the country.

At present, we know the following as of 4:00 PM Saturday 28th March 2020:

  • 500 samples have been submitted to the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) for testing.
  • There have been 76 positive cases (indicated by positive samples from CARPHA) in Trinidad and Tobago.
    • Forty-nine (49) of these positive cases came from a group of nationals who recently returned from the Costa Favolosa Cruise, 68 of whom were quarantined at Camp Balandra. This total figure has increased by 2 since yesterday (March 27th, 2020). These are all considered imported cases. This includes:
      • Forty-six (46) people from the group of 68 returned together.
      • Three (3) additional people, who were also on the cruise that returned to Trinidad and Tobago separately.
  • We knew based on previous updates (Update #45, Update #46 and the Tobago health worker), three (3) are considered local spread/transmission.
  • As of yesterday (March 27th, 2020), 16 of the 66 cases at the time were imported elsewhere.
  • Today, there are 8 additional cases for which the Ministry of Health has not indicated whether these came from contacts of known cases (local spread/transmission), imported cases or community spread/transmission cases.
  • There has been one recovery.

The Ministry of Health is reminding the public to cover all coughs and sneezes with tissue to prevent the spread of germs from person to person. When finished, the Ministry advises to throw all used tissues in the trash and wash your hands immediately after. You can also sneeze into your elbow to prevent respiratory droplets from spreading to those in close contact with you.

Ministry of Health Press Release Concerning the new cases and death of COVID-19 in T&T as of Saturday 28th March 2020

Social distancing is particularly critical at this time given the manner in which the disease is spread.

Social distancing means reducing one’s contact with others.

Persons are encouraged to distance themselves from others, especially those who cough or sneeze.

Additionally, kissing, hugging, shaking hands and participating in unnecessary social gatherings are not advised.

The public is also urged to take the following personal hygiene measures to protect themselves and their loved ones from COVID-19:

  • Wash your hands properly with soap and water.
  • Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if water and soap are not available.
  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze.
  • Dispose of tissue immediately after use.
  • Cough and sneeze into the crook of your elbow if you do not have a tissue.
  • Avoid touching your face.
  • Practice social distancing (e.g. no kissing, hugging or hand-shaking, avoid mass gatherings).
  • Sanitize hard surfaces (e.g. tabletops, handrails, doorknobs and trolleys) as often as possible.
  • Avoid close contact with people who have flu-like symptoms
  • Stay home if you are ill.

What to do if you think you have COVID-19?

If you have traveled to or had close contact with someone who traveled to a country where COVID-19 was present and/or develops a fever, dry cough, shortness of breath or breathing difficulties and/or acute diarrhea, do the following:

  1. If you develop a mild cough of low-grade fever (temperature of 37.3 degrees Celcius or more), stay at home and self-isolate. Avoid close contact with family members.
  2. Contact your area health center, giving them details of your recent travel or exposure and the symptoms you’re experiencing.
  3. Do avoid visiting private institutions and doctors’ offices.
Call for advice regarding suspected cases of COVID-19 from the Ministry of Health
Call for advice regarding suspected cases of COVID-19 from the Ministry of Health

In Trinidad, you can also call the COVID-19 hotline, 877-WELL (9355). In Tobago, anyone suffering from flu-like symptoms can call 211 for help. Remember, if it is an emergency, call 811 for ambulance services.

Following contact with the Ministry of Health, officers will visit your home for the following:

  • To have samples taken from you for the confirmation of the virus (which will be tested by CARPHA).
  • To assess your symptoms and recommend medication safe to have. It is best to avoid aspirin or aspirin based medication until you are assessed.
  • Arrange transfer to a hospital facility if your condition requires supportive care and management.

What are the criteria for testing?

According to statements in a press conference on March 20th, 2020, the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) has widened capacity to test.

“We are now using the new definitions from the WHO guidelines which now indicate all samples that are meeting the definition for a suspect or probable case of COVID-19 will be tested from all CARPHA member states.” Dr. Lisa Indar, Assistant Director CARPHA

Suspect Case:

  • A patient with acute respiratory illness (fever and at least one sign/symptom of respiratory disease, e.g., cough, shortness of breath), AND a history of travel to or residence in a location reporting community transmission of COVID-19 disease during the 14 days prior to symptom onset; OR
  • A patient with any acute respiratory illness AND having been in contact with a confirmed or probable COVID-19 case (see definition of contact) in the last 14 days prior to symptom onset; OR
  • A patient with severe acute respiratory illness (fever and at least one sign/symptom of respiratory disease, e.g., cough, shortness of breath; AND requiring hospitalization) AND in the absence of an alternative diagnosis that fully explains the clinical presentation.

Probable Case:

  • A suspect case for whom testing for the COVID-19 virus is inconclusive (result from the testing laboratory). OR
  • A suspect case for whom testing could not be performed for any reason.

However, even if you meet these case definitions, CARPHA may still reject your swab for testing. According to Dr. Roshan Parasram in a Post-Cabinet Briefing on March 19th 2020, “Testing should be done from day zero to day five from the onset of symptoms. If we go beyond day five, day six,  seven or day eight, they will possibly not take the test or not do the test even if we send the sample. And if its less than zero, meaning you have no symptoms, the test will not be done.”

Based on the latest laboratory guidance from CARPHA as of March 20th 2020, that requirement remains. Results may take 24-48 hours.

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