Minister of Health Terrence Deyalsingh has confirmed that there are 40 new cases of the novel coronavirus in Trinidad and Tobago, taking the overall national figure to 49 cases.
Speaking at a press conference on Saturday, Deyalsingh said the 40 new cases were from among the batch of 68 nationals who were immediately quarantined at Camp Balandra after they returned home from an ill-fated Caribbean cruise in Guadeloupe on Wednesday.
Deyalsingh said the results of the latest tests were received on Friday night and the patients were transferred immediately to the Couva Hospital around 1 am Saturday.
The 40 new cases were among 70 nationals who were on board the cruiseliner Costa Favalosa, which was denied entry to Martinique after leaving Guadeloupe when several passengers aboard tested positive for the virus.
Two women who were also among the T&T travellers onboard the vessel returned the day before the batch of 68 and tested positive for the virus on their way home and were immediately hospitalised.
Chief Medical Officer Roshan Parasram said the 40 patients were at this stage showing different stages of mild symptoms of the virus, including sore throats, fever, runny noses and coughing, and will continue to be treated at the Couva Hospital.
He said the other 28 nationals at Camp Balandra will continue to be monitored closely and will now be put on a fresh 14-day quarantine cycle. Parasram also said there is no immediate risk of tranmission of the virus from the Balandra location to the national population as the 68 nationals had been fully contained there because they had come from an environment where the virus existed.
Noting, however, that the 70 nationals had travelled to go to the cruise on March 3, when COVID-19 had already begun to peak globally, Deyalsingh said he was extremely disappointed that nationals continued to make bad choices which were putting the national community at risk. He reiterated that the virus was spread by contact and could only be eradicated by cutting out unnecessary human contact.
As such, he continued to ask all citizens to follow the COVID-19 protocols announced by the Government.