Posthumous testing of COVID-19 cases is not being conducted in Trinidad and Tobago, even if a patient is suspected to have died from the virus, Chief Medical Officer Dr Roshan Parasram said Thursday.
“Autopsies are generally not recommended and are not, in terms of Trinidad’s policy, we are not going to do autopsies for persons that have died even if they are suspected of COVID(-19),” Parasram said during a virtual press conference yesterday, noting such activity presents a hazard to the medical professionals involved.
“The testing posthumously becomes difficult and we are exposing potential persons. So if we have clinical indications that the signs and symptoms are there, then we would treat it as if it was COVID-19-related on suspicion rather than trying to confirm. Trying to confirm puts the healthcare worker as well as other persons at risk unnecessarily. “
By the end of yesterday the number of cases had climbed to 97 and a sixth death.
The question about autopsies was raised after rumours surfaced on social media surrounding T&T fifth COVID-19 death, Victor Mootiram. The rumours suggested Mootiram died at the San Fernando General Hospital (SFGH) “and only after his death they tested him and he was positive for COVID.”
Since the circulation of the message, workers at the SFGH have expressed concerns over returning to work due to fears for their health and safety. (See page 6). And while the CMO did not want to confirm if Mootirma died at this facility, he noted there was an inherent risk for any healthcare worker at any health facility. However, he said the ministry has provided them with the necessary personal protective equipment (PPE) to mitigate the risks.
“Over the last month or so, many suspected cases would have passed through the hospitals in the A&Es (accident and emergencies) and stuff, as they would have made their way to Caura or Couva after getting a positive. What we have put in place in those facilities is of course triage...all the people who would have interacted with you at that point would have had all the necessary PPE, so that the hospital can be assured that anybody who would have been potentially exposed has the necessary level of protection.”