Cuban nurses to join Trinidad COVID-19 battle

By Trinidad Newsday

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Terrence Deyalsingh

(TRINIDAD NEWSDAY) — Work permits have been secured for a number of Cuban nurses who will be joining the TT fight against covid19 next week.

This was disclosed by Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh during his ministry’s virtual media conference on Saturday. He said the ministry was working with Caribbean Airlines to arrange a flight to bring them sometime this week.

Previously, Deyalsingh said the nurses would be assigned to the intensive care unit under the direction of Dr Anthony Parkinson. In a wide-ranging media briefing the minister also said he understood why people are grasping at straws and latching on to any hope but the ministry has to be careful and scientific when dealing with experimental treatments for covid19.

“Experimental treatments which are born out of anecdotal evidence in a small number of patients, that is not reliable, scientific data to base treatment plans on.” Deyalsingh was referring to a statement by former Health Minister Dr Fuad Khan in which he called on the Health Minister and Chief Medical Officer (CMO) Dr Roshan Parasram to consider clinical trials for a pharmaceutical solution to combat the covid19 pandemic.

The minister said, “As countries such as France and China have already reported successful trials of drugs such as hydroxychloroquine in the treatment of their patients, the World Health Organisation (WHO) is now looking to expand the testing across several nations to certify a cure in the fastest possible time frame.”

Deyalsingh said he spoke with the Attorney General about the issue. He explained that the Minister of Health had to sign off on a clinical certificate for a registered drug. The certificate stated that the drug was for a specific use so he could not tell health care workers to use it for another purpose.

“The doctor and the State (are) then open to both civil and criminal liability. The issue of trials is one that the CMO, as head of the ethics committee, will be looking at in conjunction with the University of the West Indies to come up with proper protocols for the use of experimental drugs.”

He said trials may be possible after both legal and ethical considerations were overcome. Parasram added that UWI would send the Ministry a proposal and the Ethics Committee would “determine if there is feasibility” and if it is ethical before making a recommendation to Deyalsingh. He said at this point there was no recommended drug to treat or vaccine for covid19, and they would not use medication not approved by WHO, the TT Drug Advisory Committee or the Health Minister.

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