Dr Hinds: Covid19 cases slowly increasing


Dr Avery Hinds – Photo by Roger Jacob

Epidemiologist Dr Avery Hinds is cautioning the public to continue to adhere to the public health regulations, as there has been an increase in cumulative numbers of cases over the past three weeks.

He said as there is increased movement, with a number of sectors reopening, people need to be more stringent in following the public health regulations to avoid a steep or rapid increase in numbers.

“We’ve seen slowly increasing cumulative numbers over the past three weeks from one week to the next, one per cent, five per cent. Between last week and the week before there was an eight per cent increase.

“Previously, from May to June, we had seen the cases had started to come down, but as we moved from June to July, we found that the rate at which that decrease was happening was itself slowing, and coming down to the last ten to 14 days in July, we’ve hovered around a fairly steady rolling average.

“What this means is we’re seeing different forces at play – the public health regulations and vaccinations and the other factors put in place, which have been driving numbers downward, versus moving around more as a population, with the construction and food sectors back out and more movement and interaction between members of the population.

“We need to remember the virus is still in circulation, and we have susceptible people who can catch the virus.”

He said any upward trend in the number of cases is a number for concern, but it was too early to say if it was too much too soon.

“Movement is necessary, but we want to encourage individuals to make wise choices about where and when they move and what they do when they move, and whether they need to move or not, so that as we have more freedom to move around and do business, it doesn’t equate to meaningless movement.

“The more we can reduce our risk of interaction, even as we have the freedom to conduct business and do what we need to do, that’s the extent we can use to put a braking force on the increased risk that goes with increased movement.

“I’m seeing public transportation with the windows rolled up, and the only AC you should be having is good air circulation.”

He reminded that vaccinations meant that there was a reduced risk of people being infected, but it was not reduced to zero.

“The more people vaccinated, the greater the effect will be in reducing the number of infections as well as transmission onwards.

“Most importantly, full vaccination has been shown to reduce risk of severe outcomes.

“We don’t have the full numbers of those hospitalised who have been fully vaccinated just yet, but we’re working on that, and we have noted that among the fatalities, none of those individuals has been fully vaccinated.”

Hinds said the measures put in place, including the public health measures, vaccinations, avoiding contact and international travel regulations to help to reduce the risk of importation, are there to avoid new cases and deaths.

In the case of possible transmission of the delta variant into Trinidad and Tobago, Hinds said the protocols put in place to admit people into the country include risk-reduction measures such as the negative PCR test three days before entering TT and confirmation of receipt of a covid19 vaccine.

“We’ve seen in the repatriation exercises that have been going on for over a year, that when the additional requirement for the 72-hour PCR test was added, we went from having percentages of six-ten per cent of people being positive a week after coming into the country…to one per cent or less.

“So it’s probably the best layer of protection we can afford ourselves between reducing risk of the individual and then confirming the absence of covid19 in individual travellers as they get off the plane.

“There aren’t any other perceived vulnerabilities in the travel system at this point in time, but what we have been doing is continuing to liaise with the relevant authorities in ensuring that all the relevant protocols are being followed. And once these are being followed, in conjunction with the risk-reduction measures, they are the best protection measures we can put in place.”

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