– CMO urges persons with underlying conditions to take extra precautions
By Navendra Seoraj
THERE continues to be a rise in the number of Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) cases in Guyana, with the latest statistics showing that the country has recorded seven new cases of the disease, taking the total number of cases to 55.
Deaths caused by the disease remain at six, but the number of cases continue to climb, and according to Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Shamdeo Persaud, health authorities have so far tested 250 persons of which 195 persons were negative.
Concerns are, however, growing because from the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19, only four were classified as imported, while the others have been transmitted through community spread.
The public health ministry, however, continues to monitor the situation and so far, 41 persons have been placed in institutional isolation while 25 are in institutional quarantine. Five persons are receiving treatment in the COVID-19 Intensive Care Unit (ICU).
“Confirmed cases in Region Four (Demerara-Mahaica) represent more than 80 per cent and most of those persons who have tested positive are males,” said Dr. Persaud during a virtual update on the COVID-19 pandemic, on Wednesday.
He said the “over 50” age group of males and females show equal infection, but of the ages 30-49 years old, males account for most of the cases.
Regardless of how the cases are distributed, Dr. Persaud said the issue remains serious, especially for persons who have underlying conditions.
Persons, who suffer from chronic lung diseases such as asthma, bronchitis or those who suffer from high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes and other diseases associated with immune-compromised cases, are more at risk.
“A large portion of adults are affected by these conditions so they are more at risk of the serious forms of COVID-19 which could lead to hospitalisation, ICU treatment and even death,” said Dr. Persaud.
Globally, there are more than 1.8 million cases of COVID-19, with over 117,000 deaths. And, with no approved treatment or cure, there is no assurance that persons will survive after contracting the disease. In the absence of approved medication, governments and authorities across the world have employed a number of preventative measures to contain the spread of the disease.
Locally, the government had extended its emergency measures to combat the dreaded disease, with the imposition of a 12-hour curfew on citizens. These emergency measures were taken pursuant to paragraphs (1) and (2) (b) of the directions issued by the President, in accordance with the Public Health Ordinance, Cap. 145, and published in the Official Gazette, Legal Supplement B on March 16 2020, the government said in a notice issued on Friday evening.
The measures at reference took effect from April 3, 2020, and will last one month, unless earlier terminated, extended or amended by notice of the Minister of Public Health, after an assessment of the prevailing public health conditions.
President David Granger, in an address to the nation on Saturday evening, said Guyana is in line to receive approximately 30,000 masks, a number of ventilators and other medical equipment from the People’s Republic of China as it ups its fight against COVID-19. Added to that, the country has turned to the Government of India for financial assistance.
According to President Granger, the fight requires unprecedented expenditure and outlay of resources to enable identification and testing, isolation, protection and treatment. These added resources will complement systems already in place to suppress the spread of the virus and provide appropriate medical attention.
As the country wages war against the deadly disease, the Head of State said the efforts of the country’s frontline workers, in particular, those within the medical field, should not go unnoticed.
“I ask you, however, to think tenderly of our public health professionals and service providers, that is to say, our doctors, nurses, respiratory therapists and all other supporting staff – medical and non-medical – who are providing the required care for those in distress.
Public health practitioners are on the frontline of protecting those stricken by the disease.
They have been working tirelessly through this very difficult situation to provide quality healthcare to those who have been infected and afflicted. Everyone in the public health system has played a vital part in the fight against this disease,” he said.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), COVID-19 is an infectious disease caused by the newly discovered coronavirus.
WHO said most people infected with the COVID-19 virus will experience mild to moderate respiratory illnesses and recover without requiring special treatment. Older persons and those with underlying medical problems such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease, and cancer, are more likely to develop serious illness.
The WHO believes that the best way to prevent and slow down transmission is to be well informed about the virus, the disease it causes and how it is spread.
“Protect yourself and others from infection by washing your hands or using an alcohol-based rub frequently and not touching your face. The COVID-19 virus spreads primarily through droplets of saliva or discharge from the nose when an infected person coughs or sneezes, so it’s important that you also practise respiratory etiquette (for example, by coughing into a flexed elbow),” the WHO has advised.