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—CMO Parasram on ‘Delta’ Covid variant coming to T&T:
(Trinidad Express) It’s only a matter of time before Trinidad and Tobago gets its first case of the Delta variant, as it’s more transmissible than the P1 (Brazilian) variant, according to Chief Medical Officer Dr Roshan Parasram.
Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley also warned on Thursday that it is inevitable the highly infectious Delta variant will reach T&T’s shores.
“It would be unreasonable to expect that as the world is being ravaged by the Delta variant, and we are part of the mixing world, that we would be able to sterilise ourselves,” he said.
“It is quite possible that that virus can end up among our population because the population of Trinidad and Tobago is mixing with the population of the United States in particular and other areas. We will be fooling ourselves to believe that we’ll go through the rest of the pandemic without any chance of the Delta virus getting among us,” he added.
Speaking at a news conference yesterday at the T&T Chamber and American Chamber of Commerce (Amcham) mass vaccination site at the National Academy for the Performing Arts, Port of Spain, Parasram said the variant is now present in at least 124 countries, including Barbados and the Cayman Islands.
“The Delta variant is all around us, literally and otherwise. Trinidad has not confirmed the presence as yet, but I think, it being all around us, it’s only a matter of time before it gets to Trinidad as well.”
The CMO said one person infected with the Delta variant can infect up to eight people. “It’s a highly transmissible virus that we have to be prepared for. But we have a defence this year. We have a vaccine that is safe and effective, recommended by the World Health Organisation.
“As we prepare for Delta, the only way to get out of it is to get vaccinated as quickly as we can, to get us all safe to the place we want to be,” he said.
Parasram explained that the Sinopharm and AstraZeneca vaccines that have been administered to citizens have shown to be effective against the Delta variant, and that is why it is important to get vaccinated.
The CMO said if the Delta variant affects the parallel healthcare system, this country would have no choice but to revert to strict measures to contain its spread.
However, Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh said the country cannot continue to go into lockdown mode every time there is a surge of Covid.
“We cannot move from shutdown to shutdown. I would like to think that shutdowns should be a thing of the past. And I’m sure the business community will agree with me.
“The impact on loss of loved ones, family, friends, colleagues, all victims of a virus in an unvaccinated world. If we continue listening to the myths about vaccines and vaccine hesitancy, then we as adults would have failed our children,” he said at the news conference.
The minister noted this country would be in trouble if the Delta variant spreads like the SARS-CoV-2 Gamma (P1) variant, and assured the ministry is not waiting for the variant to reach here to have a response.
Deyalsingh also said the ministry is planning a mass vaccination exercise for healthcare workers next Friday.
He said, to date, over 90 per cent of doctors and physicians have been vaccinated; while at the level of nurses, “it’s down to about 40 to 50 per cent”.
Value of cooperation
Also speaking at the conference was Amcham’s president, Toni Sirju-Ramnarine, who said the pandemic has also taught everyone the value of cooperation and collaboration.
“The leadership shown by Trinidad and Tobago Chamber of Industry and Commerce and the Trinidad and Tobago Coalition of Services Industries and Amcham on this venture will make sure our employees and our citizens have easy and efficient access to the vaccine, which we believe will be essential to a safe and speedy reopening of our nation’s economy,” she said.
“Just as we see the value and impact of this collaboration, more dialogue and collaboration is required between the Government and business around economic recovery.
“Labour and civil society must also be part of that conversation. We can’t run or hide from the reality that some form of economic stimulus is required to jump-start our economy—both at the level of the consumer and for small and medium businesses,” Sirju-Ramnarine added.