No new cases of COVID-19

Public Health Minister, Volda Lawrence

– 13 persons in quarantine, over 700 testing kits in place

AS the Ministry of Public Health continues to put systems in place to curtail the spread of the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19), 13 persons have been quarantined and are being monitored by medical professionals, but the number of confirmed cases have remained constant, at five.

This was according to Minister of Public Health, Volda Lawrence, in a recorded update which was posted on the Ministry of Public Health’s Facebook Page, on Wednesday. She said four persons have been placed in mandatory isolation and seven persons were of interest to the ministry, but six of those persons have since been removed from the list. According to Minister Lawrence, those persons in quarantine, as well as those in isolation, will continue to receive support from the ministry’s Mental Health Unit in collaboration with the Ministry of Social Protection.

She said the Health Emergency Operations Centre continues to implement the National Strategic Plan to counter COVID-19 in Guyana and members of the response team have been meeting every 48 hours to mitigate the spread of the virus.

In addition, the ministry continues with its education drive via various media and Lawrence said the ministry has been also able to translate its messages in four Indigenous languages including in Patamona, Macushi, Akawaio and Waphisana. She said the ministry is currently working on message strategies for persons living with disabilities and also for translation to the remigrant population.

DCMO, Dr. Karen Boyle

The Public Health Minister reminded the populace to continue the practice of social distancing and to also undertake good hygienic practices to ensure that Guyana combats COVID-19. The Ministry of Public Health will provide another update on Thursday at 12:00hrs.

Globally, there are over 451,000 recorded cases of the pandemic. More than 20,400 persons have died. The total recorded cases in the United States stood at 55,568 at 13:40hrs today.

Closer to Guyana, Brazil has recorded over 2270 cases, while Trinidad and Tobago recorded 60 cases. Suriname has recorded eight cases of the virus while Venezuela’s figures have climbed to 91.

While Guyana has not recorded any new cases so far, the ministry still has the capacity to conduct tests for COVID-19. Minister Lawrence said the ministry has an adequate supply of testing kits for medical personnel to utilise.

Deputy Chief Medical Officer (DCMO), Dr. Karen Boyle, in an invited comment on Wednesday, said the ministry has about 700 testing kits and is in the process of acquiring more from the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO).

“Persons have to fit the description of a suspected case in order to be tested…using these criteria, the testing kits will suffice,” said Dr. Boyle.

President David Granger had issued executive orders in line with the Public Health Ordinance. With Guyana recording five cases of COVID-19 so far, President Granger, through the order, said immediate action is necessary to address the virus. In that regard, he directed Minister Lawrence, to “restrain, segregate and isolate” persons suffering from the disease, or those who may be affected from exposure to the infection.
President Granger has even called on the Guyana Police Force (GPF) and other law enforcement agencies to provide assistance with the enforcement of the various measures where necessary. Among the menu of measures ordered by President Granger was the containment of persons who may have shown signs of having contracted COVID-19, and the provision of curative treatment for persons who are suffering from the disease. The President also directed Minister Lawrence to remove, disinfect and destroy any personal effects, goods, buildings or other articles, materials or things exposed to the virus.
The minister was also ordered to prevent the spread of the virus on the seas, rivers and waters of Guyana, and on the high seas within twelve miles of the baseline, as well as on land, among other things.

“All government agencies and local government authorities are urged to render assistance and cooperation to undertake critical, urgent and appropriate response and measures in a timely manner to curtail and eliminate the COVID-19 threat,” President Granger said.
He also said that all citizens, residents, tourists and members of the private sector must act in accordance with the law, and comply with any lawful directives and advisories issued by appropriate government agencies to prevent further transmission of the COVID-19, and ensure the safety and wellbeing of all.

According to the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA), coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that cause illnesses ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV).

The coronavirus outbreak reportedly originated in Wuhan, China, and has since spread to many other countries, including some in the Americas. Common signs of infection include respiratory symptoms, fever, coughs, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties.

In more severe cases, infection can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death. Persons who suspect that they may have the virus are advised not to visit a health facility, but instead call on several provided hotlines where it can be arranged for a health team to visit. Minister Lawrence noted that additional hotline numbers have been added, and staff has been increased to facilitate efficiency. The numbers are 226-7480; 229-7490; 231-1166; 227-4986; 624-6674; 624-2819; 624-9355.