Deyalsingh warns against early celebration


Minister of Health Terrence Deyalsingh – AYANNA KINSALE

FOR the first time since April 26, 2021, the Ministry of Health reported zero covid19 deaths on Sunday.

And while this is a reason to celebrate, Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh urged the public not to become complacent.

When contacted for comment, Deyalsingh told Newsday even with less cases and deaths, the country must continue to treat the virus as a deadly threat.

“I am happy we have recorded a day of zero covid19 deaths. However, my job as minister of health is still to inject a sense of reality into the situation. Covid19 is not finished, it is still with us.

“One day of zero deaths is a cause for joy and celebration, but that celebration does not mean that we forget all the guidelines and we throw caution to the wind and do things that would put us in danger.

“Let’s not get overconfident, let’s still be wary of the virus.”

Deyalsingh said he is concerned the news has the potential to cause the public to celebrate too early.

“That is my fear, but as the minister it is my job to steer the public behaviours in such a way that we continue to do well so that the economy could stay open, so that jobs could be created.

He encouraged the population to be alert, follow all covid19 guidelines and get vaccinated.

“This is the effort of the entire country. I didn’t do this alone. It’s the effort of every single health worker and the 700,000 people who decided to get vaccinated. They are the heroes. That is why I am urging the other half of the population to help in this fight by getting vaccinated.”

Over the past year, Trinidad and Tobago had seen record highs of up to 37 deaths in one day. December 2021 stood as the deadliest month for the country as 711 patients died of complications of the virus.

Lamenting the 3,800 covid19 fatalities, Deyalsingh wished the death rate was lower.

“It’s always sad when we have to report deaths. I would always carry that load in my heart. So many of them could have been saved if they had gotten vaccinated, but for one reason or the other half of the population remains unvaccinated.”

Secretary for the Division of Health, Wellness, and Social Protection Dr Faith BYisrael urged Tobagonians to acknowledge the accomplishment but not get too excited.

“I would caution us the same way I would have cautioned us last year April, that we are not sure where we are just yet.

BYisrael also lamented, “December was the deadliest month for Tobago. I would caution us not to give up and not to forget the covid19 guidelines. We must keep doing these things – it is the only way we could get through this.”

Tobago recorded a total of 262 deaths since its first fatality in April 2020.

Argentina ambassador to TT Marcelo Suarez Salvia congratulated the country on the announcement. Quoting the ministry’s release on Sunday, Salvia said, “Good news, but let’s continue to have our guard up and let’s follow the covid protocols.”

He reminded the public, “The pandemic is not over. Full vaccination rate in TT is still below 51 per cent despite the fact that the Ministry of Health has done a great effort to convince unvaccinated people to get the shot.”

Also on Sunday, the ministry announced 146 new cases and active cases decreased from 6,406 on Saturday to 6,319 on Sunday afternoon. Some 232 people were discharged in the preceding 24 hours.

Since TT confirmed its first covid19 case in March 2020, a total of 142,222 people tested positive for the virus, 132,103 patients recovered.

There are 142 people in hospital with three in the intensive care unit and four in the high dependency unit.

Up to Sunday afternoon, there weren’t any patients in the step-down facilities.

The ministry’s release also said there are 6,162 patients in home isolation.

The vaccination rate among the population has increased slightly from 50.7 per cent to 50.8 per cent.

Just over a year since the launch of the national vaccination programme, 710,556 people have taken a covid19 vaccine and 148,817 people got the booster shot.

In an update on the arrival of a donation of Pfizer covid19 vaccines for children aged five-11, Deyalsingh said he signed an agreement and plans are now being made to fly the vaccines into TT.

A month ago, Deyalsingh announced in Parliament that TT had been given 40,000 paediatric vaccines by the government of Spain. He further revealed that TT is still in ongoing discussions with Pfizer to acquire enough vaccines to vaccinate 120,000 children.

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