A Venezuelan national has been identified as the carrier of the first strain of the Brazilian variant (PI) of COVID-19 to Trinidad after the country recorded five more cases of the variant earlier this week.
Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh told the Senate that the Ministry of Health is looking at all the possible ways the variant could have entered including Venezuelan migration.
“Viruses, in general, will get into the country with people movement, once people move the virus moves with them. Once people interact the virus jumps from person to person. In the case of this particular question the P1 variant, it would have come into Trinidad and Tobago by people entering Trinidad and Tobago,” said Deyalsingh.
Asked whether the Venezuelan migrant population had been ruled out as a possible source, Deyalsingh reiterated that all possibilities are being examined.
“No, we look at all possibilities and I can say and we have said it publicly the first case of the P1 variant was found in a Venezuelan migrant,” he said.
The Health Minister also disclosed that the University of the West Indies (UWI) policy on genomics testing is to test all positive repatriated people. In that regard, there have been 284 positive samples based on repatriated nationals sent for testing for Variant of Concern.
Opposition legislator Jayanti Lutchmedial asked whether any steps had taken to increase such genomic testing for the Brazilian strain.
“This is a university project, not a Ministry of Health project. However the Ministry of Health had pledged financial contributions towards the university, and in a meeting I had a couple of months ago with Her Excellency (British High Commissioner) Harriet Cross, we are in talks with Public Health England to strengthen the UWI with technical expertise. So we are working to strengthen both technically and financially, so more testing can be done,” Deyalsingh responded.
National Security Minister, Fitzgerald Hinds, told the Senate that 82 prison officers are in quarantine after eight inmates and 17 prison officers were confirmed as COVID positive.
Hinds said the current rate was an improvement from last year’s situation where there were 80 inmates and 250 prison officers were COVID positive.
In its latest bulletin, the Ministry of Health said 151 new cases of the virus have been recorded here, bringing the total since March last year to 9,947. The total number of active cases now stands at 1,505.
There have been two deaths over the past 24 hours, pushing the total to 161.