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Virus infections spike sharply with seven new cases; youngest victim sparks CMO’s fears about spread into schools

In the space of two days, the country has recorded seven new cases of the COVID-19 virus, one of which is a four-year-old child.

On October 16, the Ministry of Health’s dashboard showed there was one new case, increasing the total confirmed from 112 to 113.

However, on October 17, Prime Minister Gaston Browne announced that there were six news cases, which pushed the tally to 119.  This was confirmed by Health officials and published on the Ministry’s dashboard.  

Officials say that 16 samples were processed by the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA), with nine returning negative.  However, of the seven positive samples, one was a repeat test.

Speaking on State Television on Sunday night, October 18, the Chief Medical Officer (CMO), Dr. Rhonda Sealy-Thomas, said the recent infections comprise five females and one male.

While the imported cases have remained at 71 for more than two weeks, the domestic cases continue to rise and now stand at 48. Dr. Sealy-Thomas says none of the infected persons has any recent travel history.  

The CMO adds that Health officials are concerned about the infection spreading into schools, since the youngest victim is only four years of age.  In the meantime, she says, the child’s school has been notified and the students of that institution will be quarantined.

Trumpet News has learned that the school is one that was forced to close earlier, when the parents of a student were diagnosed with the virus.

There are now 15 active cases on island, with 101 persons  reportedly recovered from the virus.

Last week in Parliament, Minister of Health Molwyn Joseph chided members of the public for their lack of discipline in adhering to the safety protocols.  

In particular, he lashed out at an infected public servant for reportedly failing to wear a mask in the office and, consequently, for over 40 colleagues having to be tested.

Health authorities suspect that ‘clusters’ of COVID-19 are now on island, and stress the importance of self-protection

Medical officials are fearful that there might be clusters of  the COVID-19 virus on Antigua.

On Sunday night, the Quarantine Authority, Dr. Rhonda Sealy-Thomas, referenced the two government departments that were closed recently on account of employees either having the virus or coming into contact with someone diagnosed with the disease.

She confirmed that two persons from the departments are linked:  One is a senior public officer and the other, reportedly, is a close relative.

Based on guidelines by the World Health Organisation (WHO), Sealy-Thomas says these are classified as sporadic cases.  However, the authorities have another view.

Meanwhile, based on the most recent infections, Sealy-Thomas says she is concerned that persons seem not to be adhering to the protocols – such as the wearing of masks – while in their offices.

She stresses that residents should always protect themselves by wearing some form of face covering, even when visiting family.

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