Thursday 24 September, 2020

Dr Hinds: No data linking rise in COVID-19 cases to Nomination Day

Director of the Health Ministry's Epidemiology Division, Dr Avery Hinds, said there is no data confirming a link between the recent rise in COVID-19 cases and Nomination Day.

Speaking at a media briefing addressing COVID-19 on Monday (August 3), epidemiologist Dr Avery Hinds said he has not obtained any data at this time showing a correlation between Nomination Day and a recent rise in cases.

‘We don’t have any information that links the contact tracing to Nomination Day. What we would like to underscore though is that if there are persons with respiratory symptoms moving around, that puts persons at risk no matter what day it is.’

‘Also, when persons move into spaces where they are likely to come within six feet of one another, that they employ the public health measures that were repeated ad nauseum.

‘We don’t have any data that links…to Nomination Day…we will continue to look at information as it becomes available but nothing links the events at this point in time.’

On Nomination Day, candidates from political parties turned out with crowds of supporters to submit their nomination papers ahead of the August 10 general election.

Videos shared online showed that some groups did not always adhere to the public health regulations for gathering. 

Meanwhile, Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh said that to his knowledge, he was aware of positive cases which occurred before nomination day.

Dr Hinds also said they have tested people with flu symptoms who tested negative in recent weeks, adding that there is no lack of testing.

He said although they have not been randomly testing asymptomatic people they are testing people with any viral symptoms.

‘There isn’t a lack of testing, there isn’t a magic number or proportion of the population that should be tested. What we’re doing is utilising the resources in the best possible way to ensure that all the persons who can benefit from testing do so.

‘What we’ve found is that among the persons who come in with minimal symptoms or with viral symptoms but no known exposure, the vast majority of those persons has been negative.’

‘A lot of persons presenting were still not (infected with) COVID-19. Persons roaming around with viral symptoms have had other things and weren’t COVID-19 positive.’

He said people were initially not willing to have the test done but as time passes more people are coming in.

He said the people who have been tested are people with virus symptoms, people coming in via the ‘repatriation process’, and primary, secondary and tertiary contacts of positive cases.

The Election and Boundaries Commission (EBC) noted that social distancing was not observed on Nomination Day, which was held on July 17, 2020.

On July 21, the Ministry of Health announced two positive cases, one of which was pending epidemiological investigation.

In the following weeks, several clusters of additional cases were announced.

As of August 3, 2020, there are currently 39 active cases of the virus, with the overall number of known cases at 182.

The public is urged to continue to minimise interaction if possible, to maintain a distance of at least six feet from others, to wear face masks and to sanitise all spaces regularly.

Anyone experiencing virus symptoms is urged to call 800-WELL.

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