Hinterland regions the new COVID-19 ‘hotspot’
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Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Karen Boyle
Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Karen Boyle

– accounting for most new cases, the latest being one in last 24 hours

THE hinterland regions have been heavily impacted by the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, with recent statistics showing their accounting for most of the new cases.

“Our cases continue to climb, and since July 12, we have detected 42 new cases, with many of them reported in Regions One (Barima-Waini) and Nine (Upper Takutu-Upper Essequibo),” reported Deputy Chief Medical Officer (DCMO), Dr. Karen Boyle, during a virtual COVID-19 update on Wednesday.

Local health authorities have so far tested 3,769 persons here for COVID-19, with 3,432 proving negative and the remaining 337 positive.

In a regional breakdown of some of those cases, Dr. Boyle said Region One recorded 102; Region Four (Demerara-Mahaica), 120; Region Seven (Cuyuni-Mazaruni), 54; Region Eight (Potaro-Siparuni), three; and Region Nine, 11.

In light of the consistent increase in cases in some of those regions, Dr. Boyle went on to highlight some of the communities considered to be COVID-19 “hotspots”. In Region One, for instance, the hotspots are Moruca and Mabaruma, while in Region Seven, they are Aranka, Bartica and Sulphur Rose. For Region Nine, it is Lethem.
“Fellow Guyanese, the ministry has been intensifying its efforts in the hinterland region, recognising that our vast stretch of borders leaves our residents in those bordering regions very vulnerable to imported cases,” Dr. Boyle said.

She said that in addition to the ministry’s efforts, each individual has a role to play in the fight against COVID-19, and as such advised that they be watchful and wary of movement within and between hinterland communities.

Dr. Boyle, in stressing the need for civil participation, said: “Our health workers are working assiduously to help to contain the spread of this deadly disease; let us be appreciative of their Herculean efforts. We plead once again with all of you, notably in the areas alluded to above, to cooperate with the health workers, so that we can surmount this hurdle and arrest the upward trend, which presently seems to be elusive. It is critical, however, that we monitor in the coming weeks the evolution of the incidence in all regions.”

As things stand presently, health authorities are monitoring 115 active cases of COVID-19, two of which are being treated in the COVID-19 Intensive Care Unit (ICU). The country has already lost 19 of its prized citizens to the dreaded disease, but is comforted at knowing that 163 of the 357 persons who tested positive have recovered.

A FORMIDABLE TASK

But, as Dr. Boyle was quick to caution, the recovery rate is not to be celebrated too soon, as management of confirmed cases remains a “formidable” task. And, considering the relaxation of some control measures, the authorities is urging persons to be cautious and ever vigilant because COVID-19 is still prevalent in Guyana.
“Friends, our relaxation of measures is in effect, and I wish to address those who are returning to work on rotation,” Dr. Boyle said,” adding: “It is suggested that all workplaces appoint a Focal Point for COVID-19, who will be responsible for ensuring that all employees adhere to the workplace’s guidelines, and that sensitisation training sessions are regularly organised for staff.”

These are suggested occupational safety and health measures that can be taken to protect all employees.

Additionally, the Ministry of Public Health is urging that those schools which are scheduled to reopen for the new academic year begin thinking and drawing up a comprehensive plan to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus.

Identifying focal points will also be useful, she said, as well as a joint committee between parents and teachers, to ensure that the safest school environment is created before students return.

Dr. Boyle reminded persons that a collective effort is needed in order for Guyana not to be outwitted by the highly infectious coronavirus disease.
In an effort to encourage persons, she said, “Together we can stop the spread; not some of us but all of us provided we observe the physical distancing and hygiene protocols.

“I am sure that all of us wish to have our loved ones repatriated, we all want to enjoy some level of normalcy, and we wish above all to ease the burden on all our frontline workers who are selflessly battling COVID; they too are deserving of respite from the fight. This can only happen if we all give our full support.”
COVID-19 remains a serious issue not just here in Guyana, but globally as well, and according to global statistics, there are 14.1 million cases of COVID-19, with over 597,000 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 medications, governments and authorities across the world have employed a number of preventive measures to contain the spread of the disease.

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