With bed space running out for critically ill Covid-19 patients, Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley yesterday afternoon announced the following Covid restrictions to reduce the spread of the virus.
From midnight last night, T&T is under a State of Emergency (SoE).
It involves a curfew which will be from 9p.m to 5a.m.
The length of the State of Emergency will be determined by the response of citizens, who had not all followed the public health ordinance and continued to flout the regulations.
The police would now be empowered to act against those who breach-ed the provisions of the SoE.
If you don’t have to be out for exempted reason, you stay home under force of law, he said.
He said T&T had tried to avoid this eventuality, but had clearly failed.
“I’m sorry it has come to coffins and the faces of dead people, to realize that we have always been in a very difficult place.”
He said the new measures were meant to prevent a situation where people sick with the virus were not even able to access health care, and were dying for want of oxygen.
Essential services remain open
Essential services will continue to operate but the rest of the country will be “virtually shut down”, he said.
The latest decisions were taken at a high-profile meeting yesterday morning which included the Attorney General, Ministry of Health and other stakeholders.
The prime minister’s announcements came after the country recorded its highest Covid-19 positive cases in recent days. The highest death toll was recorded on Thursday with 21 deaths in 24 hours. The Ministry of Health reported nine deaths on Friday, along with 565 new positive cases.
Rowley said the energy sector, food supply chain, pharmacies, public and private transport will remain exempted. And there is no need to panic buy, he said.
The Ministry of National Security, he said, will ensure that citizens remain indoors under the force of the law.
He said, “Now that we are at a situation where the reports are that we are, even with the parallel health system, we are running out of bed space for those who require a far firmer response at the individual level to make sure that as we are running out of space we now have to be even more cooperative than we were last year April. Today in Trinidad and Tobago we have a population that is running scared. I woke up yesterday and people were telling me to press the panic button. I am sorry but it has come to coffins and faces of dead people for us to realise that we are in and always has been in a very difficult place.”
Out of beds
Before the prime minister’s announcement, Principal Medical Officer at the Ministry of Health, Dr. Maryam Abdool-Richards said the country’s parallel health care system was now at a critical stage.
She said the health care system was at a “touch and go” stage, with a 73 per cent occupancy at hospitals in Trinidad.
Abdool-Richards said all Intensive Care Unit (ICU) beds were occupied, with 95 per cent occupancy in the High Dependency Unit (HDU).
Hospital ward beds, she said, was now at 66 per cent capacity.
“This increasing hospitalization level really is a cause of concern because at this rate we are basically out of hospital beds and if you require care you will not be receiving the best level of care,” she said.
And epidemiologist Dr Avery Hinds said 43 of every 100 people being tested were now coming back with a positive result.