Friday 4 December, 2020

Parallel health system cautiously prepared for repatriated citizens

As the government seeks to begin removing the exemption process needed to repatriate citizens, health care officials are assuring that the parallel system will be able to handle the load. 

While a committee is tasked with recommending a process by November 2, the health care system is preparing itself for the influx. Principal Medical Officer, Dr Maryam Abdool Richards, broke down how experts are surveying the system. 

“Within the parallel health care system, we have stratified the risk level of persons across hospitals, quarantine centres for returning nationals and step-down facilities for COVID-19 positive patients who have co-morbidities or who may have a socio-economic challenge in terms of the COVID-19 mitigation measures,” she explained. 

Dr Richards said that the health sector will cap the intake of repatriated nationals if 70 per cent of hospital bed spaces are filled up at any point. Currently, it’s less than 20 per cent. 

Nevertheless, Dr Richards explained that there are some concerns shared in the sector, particularly for those coming from high-risk nations. 

“Our reason is centred around the monitoring and surveillance of these repatriated nationals who have come from high-risk countries such as the United States and Canada. We are also concerned that these nationals may bring a different strain of the COVID-19 virus,” she said. 

The impending border opening is likely to come while other restrictions have also been eased. Epidemiologist, Dr Avery Hinds explained that if trends change in the coming weeks, the population will be made aware. 

“The Ministry of Health is already engaged in having its responses ready if there is any sort of upsurge. We will continue to monitor on a daily basis; we will continue to keep the population apprised of trends as we have been doing,” he promised. 

Dr Hinds said the experts won’t be fixing themselves to any particular number, but more so the rate of capacity and how quickly those situations can change. 

On Saturday, Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley announced that a committee which includes National Security Minister, Stuart Young and Minister of Health Terrence Deyalsingh, has been set up to create an avenue by which the borders can ‘partially reopen’ to accommodate the repatriation of Trinidad and Tobago’s citizens.  

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