Statement from the Hon. Terrence Deyalsingh, Minister of Health, at the media conference to advise of the first confirmed (imported) case of COVID-19 in Trinidad and Tobago
Port-of-Spain, March 12, 2020: The Honorable Terrence Deyalsingh, Minister of Health, stated the following:
As I have been saying all along, whenever we have a confirmed case of COVID-19 I will be the first to contact you, in transparency and honesty. At 2:45 today, we got confirmation of our first case of [Novel] Coronavirus from CARPHA [Caribbean Public Health Agency].
Let me give you a brief history of what has happened so far. This case, it should be noted, is an imported case. It is a fifty-two (52) year old male who flew into the county from Switzerland on Monday the 9th March . That is this Monday.
It is worthwhile to note that, since Monday, this person has been in self-isolation. The person would have contacted his health care professional on Wednesday 11th, which is yesterday. The necessary swabs were taken and CARPHA today, at 2:45 p.m., contacted me and said we have our first confirmed case of COVID-19.
What have we done so far since we were alerted about this possible case? As I said, he came in on Monday night. The family has been insolation since we were alerted, since Wednesday 11th  Contact tracing began on Wednesday, under the protocols that we use for Tuberculosis. This is being conducted by Dr Michelle Trotman of the Caura Hospital, as a matter of course. So contact tracing began on Wednesday.
It is a mild case so, now, arrangements are being made to have the patient transferred, from his home, via suitably equipped ambulance services with all PPE [Personal Protective Equipment], to the Caura facility, as it is a mild case.
The issue of patient confidentiality has to reign supreme, so I will be unable to share much more details about the patient. What is important is that the Government, via its different spokespersons today, myself and Minister Young are sticking to our words to be transparent, honest upfront and timely with the information.
Thank you very much.
IMPORTANT ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
Dual Public Health Systems
As part of the proactive approach to protecting the Trinidad and Tobago population from the threat of COVID-19 (formerly known as Novel Coronavirus) the Ministry of Health has taken the official decision to institute two parallel health care systems.
One public health system will focus on addressing all COVID-19 related matters. The Caura Hospital and the Couva Hospital and Multi-Training Facility with be used for this purpose. The population will therefore access the standard public health care services via the other existing health facilities, as usual.
Suspension of Cruise Ship Visits
For the rest of the Cruise Ship season, which ends on April 24th, 2020, The Government of Trinidad and Tobago is suspending all cruise ship visits to this country.
Personal Protective Measures
The Ministry is urging the public to adhere to infection prevention and control measures being disseminated by the Ministry of Health, PAHO/WHO and CARPHA, as this will be key in reducing thespread of the virus.
The public is advised to practice simple everyday preventive actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory viruses:
- Wash your hands properly with soap and water. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if water and soap are not available
- Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Dispose of tissue immediately after using. Cough and sneeze into the crook of your elbow if you do not have a tissue
- Avoid touching your face
- Avoid close contact with people who have flu-like symptoms
- Stay home if you are ill
- Sanitize hard surfaces ( e.g. table tops, hand rails, door knobs and trolleys) as often as possible.
The Government of Trinidad and Tobago recognizes the concerns of the public and gives the assurance that we are taking all reasonable steps to protect the population. From the inception of this virus on the global scale, the Ministry has kept the public informed and will continue to update persons with accurate and relevant information, as soon as it becomes available. We thank the public for their vigilance and continued support for the health and safety measures instituted thus far.
Members of the public are encouraged to visit the Ministry’s website at www.health.gov.tt/covid19 or it’s social media pages for additional information.