OFFICIAL WEBSITE OF THE UNITED NATIONAL CONGRESS, The Official Opposition In The Republic Of Trinidad And Tobago.

Statement Of Dr Tim Gopeesingh


In the aftermath of the just-concluded Carnival season, there have been several reports from health sector workers and the wider population of a noticeable increase in citizens being hospitalized, and even dying, due to COVID-19 and other respiratory infections at the nation’s public hospitals and health centres.

Indeed, just under a month ago, Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh announced an increase in the incidence of Covid from December 2023 to January 2024, as well as the deaths of six patients.

It is to be expected therefore, that Covid cases have increased in the past month, especially due to the recent influx of thousands of foreign visitors to our shores for the 2024 Carnival season, as well as the participation of tens of thousands of citizens in the various Carnival events.

Recent reports from very reliable sources both in the public health sector and among the wider population indicate that patients are now being admitted to hospitals suffering from serious upper and lower respiratory tract infections. They are also being affected by the dense Sahara dust, which has been known to also cause serious respiratory illnesses.

Reliable informants have also indicated that major hospitals are now increasing their stocktaking of oxygen cylinders. Notably, during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2021, retailers of oxygen cylinders in Trinidad and Tobago reported that they were out of stock, due to the massive increase in the rate of Covid infections and deaths.

Also, during the Covid pandemic in 2020, the Point Fortin Hospital, which was being used to treat Covid patients, had at one point suffered from a serious lack of oxygen facilities for patients, resulting in several becoming critically ill.

It is therefore now incumbent on the Health Minister to urgently provide the population with a detailed update of the latest status of Covid infections and related deaths, as well as details of the number of citizens being treated for respiratory viruses and Sahara dust infections in our nation’s hospitals and health centres.

Specifically, the Health Minister must provide the country with details of the number of hospital/health centre admissions due to these aforementioned respiratory infections; true incidences of COVID-19 cases; and whether the apparent rise is being efficiently monitored at the health institutions.

The Health Minister must also clear the air on the reports of the recent uptick in the stocking of oxygen cylinders at the hospitals, and if there is any correlation between this and the reported increase in respiratory illnesses.

This is even more necessary, given the unprecedented COVID-19 deaths in Trinidad and Tobago during the pandemic, due to the Health Ministry’s blatant failure to effectively treat with the crisis at the time, as detailed in the 2022 Seemungal Report.

Another issue requiring the Health Minister’s urgent clarification is that of reports of mattresses being changed at the nation’s hospitals en masse. If true, this indicates a sudden and questionable new procurement issue, and there is a need for transparency and accountability in this matter, regarding costs and whether proper fiscal procedure was followed.

The fact remains that the Health Minister and Ministry of Health had, and retain, a seriously poor track record of competence, accountability, transparency and performance, especially when it comes to providing citizens with proper, lifesaving and adequate health care.

Their disastrous handling of the COVID-19 pandemic has led to the entire country having no confidence whatsoever in their ability to adequately manage another major COVID-19 outbreak among the population.

Health Minister Deyalsingh must therefore answer all of these issues truthfully, transparently and urgently, and not leave the citizens of this country as sitting ducks in the event of another deadly Covid-19 outbreak, or any other health crisis that may arise.


Dr. Tim Gopeesingh

Former UNC Minister and MP

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