A Ministry of Health map displaying the communities from which confirmed COVID-19 cases came has also revealed how easy it is for those persons, as well as people they may have come into contact with, to spread the virus across the country.
The Geographic Information System (GIS) map was released by the Ministry of Health during a virtual press conference yesterday and represented the first time the ministry had met the media and public’s demand to provide a little more information on where the cases resided so that the public could be more informed so as to take better preventative measures to avoid possible exposure.
By last night, the ministry confirmed a sixth death and that the cases had climbed to 97.
During the morning press conference, Parasram presented two maps. The first highlighted areas where laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 cases were.
“So if we start with Tobago - we see that Tobago has two cases shown on the map and if you move across to Trinidad, the cases starting on the northwest, there’s a cluster along the East-West corridor, that leads further down to the Caroni area, towards Couva and Chaguanas and then we see it going along the Western border all the way down to Penal, Siparia, passing through San Fernando. There’s a star you can see on the right, on top of the map, which is the cluster of...49 cases that represent the Balandra population (returned from the cruise),” he explained.
The second map displayed the movement of persons and is not yet completed, showing only 10 of the then 90 confirmed cases of the virus.
“You can see a primary case in the North-West of the country moving all the way down to the South. There is no limit to the movement that anyone case can have. We are seeing a dearth of cases in the South-East and North-East of the country but let us be clear, any of those cases could have moved to a gathering in any of those areas we are not seeing an active case,” he said.
With this in mind, Parasram cautioned the public not to let the map lower their vigilance.
“Let us not use this as a source...for the people in the unaffected areas as shown on the map and don’t be complacent. We have asked the country to go on a state of lockdown because we don’t know where the hidden cases are going to be.”
In a subsequent telephone interview, Parasram said while a sample of the incomplete map which followed the cases’ movement was displayed and disseminated yesterday but the fully populated map should be released next week.
“I just gave a sample of the data that we have. Once we completely populate the map, maybe what we can do is a running sort of map,” he explained.
“The GIS unit is actually trying to get all the data together from the counties and populate the map first...it would take a little while. Cases coming in every day...we trying to get that completed by the middle of next week, hopefully we could get a fully updated map.”
During his virtual presentation, Parasram said the GIS mapping “has been helping significantly in the tracing of contacts and tracing of cases as we progress through this epidemic.”
He said the system provides an evidence-based platform to guide the ministry’s decisions.
“We are not making decisions in an ad-hoc manner. We are using technology to assist us in our primary cases, secondary cases, tertiary cases and actually learning from them how the cases are actually being spread, how they are moving about and, allowing us...to strategically place and manage our resource base which is essential to combating an epidemic to ensure our resources aren’t out-stripped,” the CMO explained.