The Ministry of Health has almost doubled up on space in its step-down facilities to accommodate an increase in COVID-19 cases - either from the Tobago House of Assembly elections campaigning or the arrival of the Omicron variant.
This was the word from Minister of Health, Terrence Deyalsingh yesterday.
Questioned at the Ministry of Health’s virtual media conference about any concerns of further spikes in cases, Minister Deyalsingh said: “We are always prepared to accommodate extra persons following any congregation. Let’s hope that everything goes well today in Tobago.
“You just heard me say that we have expanded our step-down facilities and will be expanding it from 188 beds to 342. That is in preparation for all eventualities, whether it’s due to an election, whether it’s due to Delta, whether it’s due to Omicron, whether it’s due to any gathering.”
On fears over the Omicron variant, Deyalsingh urged people not to misinterpret preliminary studies on the severity of its infection to mean the variant does not warrant concern.
“Those are some initial findings in small populations of people. We still don’t know,” he said.
“The key takeaway is to treat Omicorn and its arrival in Trinidad and Tobago as serious. Treat it as seriously as we treat Delta. It is early days yet.”
With recent admissions that the variant could be among the population but yet to be detected, Deyalsingh said it is critical everyone remains vigilant.
“The vaccinated, you have that extra layer of protection. However, you still need to practice the public health measures of wearing your mask especially, washing your hands, social distancing and thank you for being vaccinated,” Deyalsingh said.
This advice, he said, needed to be more strictly adhered to by the unvaccinated population “because you don’t have that extra layer of protection that a vaccine will give you.”
While the United States and the United Kingdom have adjusted the timeframe for negative PCR tests before entry due to Omicron, the Minister of Health said there will not be any such changes in T&T yet.
He noted the ministry is closely monitoring developments internationally and locally and will advise the public on any changes to the border protocols.