Ministry of Health and Social Services officials reported today that there are an additional three cases of COVID-19 on island. Minister of Health Charles Kirnon said in Thursday’s 5PM update that eight samples were sent off to the CARPHA laboratory in Trinidad on Wednesday. Five of the samples were negative and three were positive for the virus.
This brings the number on island to five.
The patients are currently in isolation and being monitored by health officials. Contact tracing is ongoing to identify anyone they may have come in contact with so that they can be quarantined and monitored for symptoms. Members of the household in which the new cases reside have also been quarantined.
Minister Kirnon encouraged the public to heed protocols for reducing risks, strictly follow the guidelines for social distancing and said limit day time outings to extreme circumstances.
The symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, dry cough and difficulty breathing.
Directory of Primary Health Care Dr Dorothea Hazel-Blake said while the first case on island was imported, the trend with the other four is that they are residents of the island who have not travelled recently, “which means we are spreading the virus locally. If we are going to stop the spread of the virus, we have to practice what you have been hearing. The virus spreads by droplets.” This means wash hands with soap and running water, coughing into the elbow and keeping at least six feet distance between you and other people, she added.
The director said the growing numbers also means there is an increased need for quarantine. She asked that when officials request that someone be isolated from other people they should be heeded. Quarantine is necessary to reduce the risk of infecting others. In most cases, the individual will be asked to remain at home. Her team, she added, will provide the necessary support to reduce the need for the patient to leave home. If the virus develops, Dr. Hazel-Blake said they commit to provide “the best available treatment that we have. We expect you to remain in one location in the duration of the quarantine period.”
Those under quarantine are asked to fully cooperate with Ministry of Health staff and provide honest, and timely answers to questions asked.
In the Wednesday, briefing the director said that the ministry is currently completing renovations of the physio therapy building on the Glendon Hospital compound. This area, she said would comfortably handle about five or six patients.
She reiterated that this is a new virus and scientists are still learning about it daily. Of the patients who come down with COVID-19 about 80% of the cases are mild. The first two cases of the virus on island had only mild symptoms and did not need to be hospitalised or receive therapy.
The hospital currently has three ventilators and have requested additional ones from the Public Health UK. However, the UK government has prioritised dispatching personal protective equipment and the ministry is awaiting a decision on their request to acquire a machine to test locally and for additional ventilators.
Premier Easton Taylor-Farrell said Wednesday that globally there is high demand for ventilators, PPEs and other supplies to fight COVID-19. While the virus has already killed more than 23,000 people worldwide, more than 122,000 people have recovered from the virus.
Montserrat goes into a lock down as of 6PM on Thursday. A 7PM to 5AM curfew is in place for all except for essential services. From 5AM to 7PM, the public is asked to limit their interactions with others to groups no larger than four.