It took just 12 days for the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in T&T to skyrocket from one to 57. Yesterday alone, five new cases were reported. This is a trend that is causing a great deal of unease, as it is proof of how easily this strain of coronavirus can spread in the community if people don’t heed the repeated appeals to exercise personal responsibility.
The four latest COVID-19 cases comprised three people with histories of recent travel and one person who had contact with a person with a history of recent travel. Two were on the cruise ship Costa Favolosa but were separate from the group of 68 nationals from that vessel who returned to the country last week and were immediately quarantined at a facility in Balandra.
If there are any positive sides to the COVID-19 outbreak in T&T, they include the fact that the majority of cases are mild, there have been no fatalities and the situation is being well managed within the public health system. So far, there is no evidence of community spread—another small bit of good news.
The bad news is that the worst of this pandemic is still ahead and with T&T now seeming to surge ahead of neighbouring Caribbean countries with the number of cases recorded here, citizens can’t afford to let down their guard.
The rate at which cases are surfacing among recently returned nationals should be enough of a warning to the entire nation to exercise extreme caution with hygiene and day-to-day interactions.
Overall, there have been quite a few dramatic developments since that first case on March 12. As the country was informed by the Ministry of Health, that patient was a 52-year-old man who had recently travelled to Switzerland and self-isolated on his return to T&T before he began experiencing symptoms. A day later the second case, a 66-year-old man, was admitted to a public health facility and two more were confirmed on the night of March 15.
Since then, the public health sector has been in full COVID-19 mode, particularly with the spike on March 21 when 40 more cases were confirmed, all of them from among 68 nationals who had left for the cruise on the Costa Favolosa on March 5.
These are just some of the developments in less than a fortnight that have brought this country to a state of near lockdown. And it is far from over.
In Wuhan, China, which was ground zero for this rapidly spreading pandemic, there are promising early signs that the situation is finally under control, and that is after eight weeks of complete lockdown and a series of stringent measure to limit the virus’ spread.
As of today, T&T is only 13 days into its COVID-19 experience with the likelihood that the situation will get worse before it gets better. It will be a long road ahead.