Trinidad and Tobago close to activating healthcare system backup plans


Minister of Health Terrence Deyalsingh. Photo by Ayanna Kinsale

AS the number of covid19 cases continues to rise, so do the chances of the Health Ministry needing to activate its backup plans for the parallel healthcare system.

On Thursday, the ministry recorded 291 new cases and two more deaths. There are now 3,236 active cases and the death toll is 191. A total of 303 patients are in hospital.

On Wednesday morning, principal medical officer of institutions Dr Maryam Abdool-Richards said, “There are currently 542 beds available with supporting staff. If things continue as they are, we will have 226 spaces available, which gives us seven days to full occupancy.”

That afternoon Trinidad and Tobago recorded its largest number of covid19 cases detected overnight to date: 399, with four deaths.

Daily case numbers have been on the rise over the past week, and health officials have been pleading with the public not to congregate, as the parallel healthcare system could be overwhelmed in a few days.

Last Friday, 326 new cases were recorded, followed by 248 on Saturday and 241 on Sunday. The figure then dropped to 158 on Monday before yet another increase, to 235 cases on Tuesday, 399 on Wednesday and now 291.

Last week, Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh outlined the ministry’s backup plans.

He said only the paediatric tower at the Couva Multi-Training Hospital Facility is being used to house covid19 patients. But should space there run out owing to the rapidly increasing case numbers, “Plan B” will be activated – the adult tower there will be used.

He said, “We are paying attention to not only the number of cases per day, and I think the seven-day rolling average is 116 – we paid close attention to those numbers…But as far as hospitalisation is concerned, we also paid attention to the number of people coming into the hospital.”

Should that space also fill up, which Deyalsingh said he hopes does not happen, “Plan C” will be activated, which is using the Arima Hospital once again.

“I’m asking the population to help us to make sure the Arima Hospital stays for the people of Arima,” he said. “The good thing now is, most of the patients being admitted are ambulatory (walking) patients, so that’s a good sign.”

The adult tower in Couva and the Arima Hospital, if they ever need to be used, will add around 200 more beds.

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