In case you missed it, here are the Key Points from the Virtual Media Conference on COVID-19 held on Saturday August 8th 2020.

🔹Chief Medical Officer Dr. Roshan Parasram explained that the 18 cases highlighted in today’s MOH press release were samples tested from July 31st to present. He said this was due to a change in reporting the cases, which resulted in a lag of about seven days. He said as a means of quality assurance, Positive COVID-19 results emanating from the recently established UWI lab were sent to the Trinidad Public Health Lab and then to the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) for further confirmation. He said unfortunately, the reporting of Positive cases had also been “batched.” Going forward, the report will state the date the COVID-19 sample was collected and not the date the lab sent the report.

🔹CMO Dr. Roshan Parasram noted some changes in the demography of COVID-19 patients in Phase One (March 11th – April 26th 2020) and Phase Two (April 27th – August 6th 2020). The following is the breakdown:*Phase One: 41.4% COVID-19 Positive males, and 58.6% Positive femalesPhase Two: 58.1% COVID-19 Positive males, and 41.9% Positive females.*In Phase One, persons in their mid 50s to 60s accounted for the majority of COVID-19 cases. In Phase Two, children as well as persons in their 20s, 30s and 40s accounted for most cases.

🔹Chief Medical Officer Dr. Roshan Parasram said Government cannot close everything every time there are a few cases of COVID-19 in the population. He said people must adhere to the New Normal and again reminded that the latest cases occurred because persons chose to go to work or send their children to school when they were ill.

🔹Chief Medical Officer Dr. Roshan Parasram addressed rumours of his resignation: “I am still here. Since the time I was appointed CMO, I have never submitted any resignation to anyone. So I hope that clears it up once and for all.”

🔹Principal Medical Officer – Institutions, Dr. Maryam Richards, confirmed that 102 TT Nationals in the US are expected to return home this afternoon. They will be housed at the Paria hotel.

🔹Dr. Richards said at present, there are 356 persons in the parallel health system (Caura and Couva Hospitals) at this time. There are Specialists in these facilities to manage COVID-19 patients, suspect cases and persons awaiting results. They include anesthetists, intensivists, infection control specialists, pulmonologists, and internists. Physicians and nurses are also at the step down facilities.

🔹Director of Veterinary Public Health at the Ministry of Health, Dr. Saed Rahaman, stated that behavioural changes must be adhered to in order to keep COVID-19 at bay. He said public health surveillance of business places showed that the financial and banking sectors were excellent in following protocols, large supermarkets were good but some smaller businesses were not compliant on the public health guidelines.

🔹Dr. Rahaman noted that there is a sense of complacency in wearing face masks in the workplace. People are not wearing masks when in close proximity to their colleagues at work.

🔹Dr. Rahaman said social distancing will be a fact of our lives for some time to come. Businesses must therefore ensure there is compliance through spatial distancing (moving workstations further apart), temporal distancing (separating workers based on different time schedules) and group distancing (workers not mixing with other groups eg. by departments, floors, functions). Cleaning procedures should be documented by businesses and small and medium business owners should have an external company on call for deep sanitising for COVID-19, should one of their workers become infected. This will ensure less down-time at the business. He further suggested spacing out lunch times for workers, frequent hand washing, especially at bathroom breaks, and practicing respiratory hygiene (cough and sneeze into your elbow, dispose of tissues immediately and then wash your hands).

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