THE implementation of public health measures to stop the spread of Covid-19 has also reduced other viral illnesses like the common cold and influenza in Trinidad and Tobago.
This was revealed by Chief Medical Officer Dr Roshan Parasram at the virtual media conference of the Minister of Health on Wednesday.
He presented slides with data of illnesses in Trinidad and Tobago for the past six years.
Parasram said fewer people moving around and stricter hygiene measures has led to a significant drop in these illnesses.
He said the gastroenteritis cases which were on the rise at the beginning of the year with hundreds of cases reported have decreased significantly to the lowest level in six years as of the month of March.
The CMO also noted that fewer people were turning up for testing for Covid-19 at health centres across the country.
He said, “The reason purely is that persons are not coming into our facilities as they would have been before. We have seen nationally if you look at a six-year trend, that there are significant decreases that are occurring in Trinidad and Tobago other than Covid-19.
“It is a knock-on effect of the public health measures that we are seeing and we are happy to see that decline as well.”
Parasram also said that influenza cases dropped to almost zero from about 2,000 cases in February and fewer than 500 in May.
He said an increase in viral illnesses usually coincided with the beginning of the school year.
Parasram said acute viral illnesses as the common cold also showed a decrease.
He said there were little or no cases of influenza which was a vaccine preventable virus and for the year thus far 114,000 doses were administered in the public health care system.
Asked about whether day care centres could be opened to allow people with children, who were going back to work, a place to keep their children, Parasram said children could not practise social distancing.
He said, “Every year with the reopening of schools we see a spike in infectious disease, a spike in influenza, a spike in the common cold.
“Once you have school children coming together because of that we cannot put all the measures in place, it is an extremely great risk.”