Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley’s Media Conference on COVID-19 - Saturday May 15th 2021

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Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley announced that from midnight tonight, Trinidad and Tobago will be under a State of Emergency (SoE) with a curfew in place from 9PM to 5AM.

The Prime Minister made the statement as he noted the rising number of COVID-19 cases and deaths, saying that more infections are expected in the coming days. Every effort was made to prevent this from happening but he said a State of Emergency is required at this time.

In answering a question on how long the State of Emergency will stay in effect, the Prime Minister said none of us can say we have been in a State of Emergency during a pandemic. He said this has to do with cooperation from the public in staying home and maintaining health protocols. Additionally, he said the May 23rd lifting of some restrictions will be dependent on Epidemiologist Dr. Avery Hinds' data in the coming days.

The Prime Minister said essential services will remain open during the SoE. They include National Security, Health, Energy, Utilities, Ports and Airports, Food Supply chain (packaging, preparation, supermarkets), Pharmacies, Transport. The full list of essential services will be stated in the updated Public Health Regulations.

PM Rowley made a plea for people not to hoard food and other items as the State of Emergency comes into effect. He assured that regular supply systems with remain open DAILY and there is no need to rush and go out to stock up on food and gas today.

Thoracic Medical Director at the Caura Hospital, Dr. Michelle Trotman, made another plea for citizen to distance, sanitise, and wear masks. She again noted that doctors have been hearing confessions from sick and dying patients who admit they went to parties where they would have contracted COVID-19.

On a question on the postponement of the Secondary Entrance Assessment exam, PM Rowley said the Minister of Education will address this in a short time, however face-to-face contact with teachers and pupils at all levels will be immediately halted.

Arrangements are being made to bring in 100,000 vaccines from China. If the Sinopharm vaccines arrive on time this coming week, vaccination is expected to start next Saturday. The Minister of Health, Terrence Deyalsingh, said a portion of the vaccines will be administered to elderly persons in Homes. As with the AstraZeneca vaccine, priority will be given to:
- Health care workers
- Persons over 60 with or without co-morbidities
- Persons under 50 with co-morbidities

PM Rowley highlighted a Washington expert who said vaccine shortage may last for years. He therefore urged people to take Dr. Tim Gopeesingh's advice to take whatever COVID-19 vaccine is available when their time comes.

Principal Medical Officer Dr. Maryam Abdool-Richards noted that the 7-day rolling average for COVID-19 cases is now 380, and there is an increase in COVID-19 admissions of 30 to 50 patients across the hospital system on a daily basis. She said as fast as bed capacity was increased this week, they were filled.

The following is a breakdown of COVID-19 hospital occupancy:
Arima - 85%
Augustus Long - 90%
Caura - 78%
Couva - 71%
St. Ann's - 80%
Tobago - 25%

The following is a breakdown of bed occupancy levels for COVID-19 patients:
HDU beds: 95%
ICU beds: 100%
Ward beds: 66%
Step-down beds: 57%

Dr. Richards said beds are being converted with ventilators added on a daily basis.

The ambulance system is at 50% in terms of transport of COVID-19 patients.
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