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Friday, August 14, 2020

Trinidad public refusing to cooperate in virus tracing drive – Health Minister

(Trinidad Guardian) With the country at the start of what appears to be a second phase of COVID-19 infections following five locally transmitted infections from an unknown source last week, the Ministry of Health is in overdrive to locate the source/s and determine the spread of this wave of infections through contact tracing.

However, according to Minister of Health Terrence Deyalsingh officials in the ministry are reporting that citizens are being very uncooperative with this process.

Since the first case of local spread last week, several businesses, state entities and three schools have been forced to shut down to conduct sanitisation as either the persons who contracted had the virus or people who had come into them conducted some form of activity at those locations.

Ministry officials now have the added task of doing a rigorous contact tracing exercise to determine the persons who came into contact with the latest positive patients. In the case of the Maraval RC case alone, where a SEA pupil tested positive, the ministry had said 90 pupils and staff and over 200 secondary contacts were involved in that contact tracing process.

However, speaking during a Ministry of Health press briefing yesterday, as the country recorded case 156, Deyalsingh indicated that reports reaching him from the Technical Director in the Epidemiology Division, Dr Avery Hinds and Principal Medical Officer of Health for Epidemiology, Dr Naresh Nandram, were that citizens are hiding from health officials, lying to them and being hostile towards them.

“If we can get the cooperation of those contacts, it means we can trace people quickly, it means the shutting down of institutions could be for shorter periods of time or not even shutting down at all but we need the cooperation of the persons we are trying to reach via contact tracing,” he said.

Noting how critical controlling the virus’ spread was, Deyalsingh said it was disappointing to see that citizens were not cooperating with the process.

Speaking at a previous briefing on Monday, Hinds indicated that “there is legislation or there is documentation that it is an offence to withhold information intentionally.”

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