THE novel coronavirus (COVID-19) has claimed the lives of 40 Guyanese between August 24 and September 23, with two of those persons dying within the past 24 hours.
Guyana Chronicle was reliably informed that the recent victims were 70-year-old Ingrid Ramdular of Region Four (Demerara-Mahaica) and 66-year-old Janis Pritchand from Region One (Barima-Waini).
Both persons were said to be patients of the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC)’s COVID-19 Intensive Care Unit (ICU), where they died while receiving treatment on Wednesday.
The Ministry of Health expressed condolences to the families of these persons and pledged to make every effort to provide all the necessary support, during this difficult time.
Officials of the ministry have also contacted all relatives and relevant persons to facilitate contact tracing and rapid assistance to everyone who might have been exposed to the victims.
While the loss of life is never pleasant, it was reported that there has been a small but significant development in the use of the remdesivir drug, which has so far shown positive signs in the treatment of COVID-19.
Cardiologist, Dr. Mahendra Carpen, who is spearheading the trials of the drug, said it was administered to nine patients and there was no adverse effect.
“Patients responded good and three patients did not need oxygen or intubation after starting the drug,” said Dr. Carpen during an exclusive interview with the Guyana Chronicle on Monday.
According to New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM), remdesivir, a nucleotide analogue pro-drug that inhibits viral RNA polymerases, has shown in-vitro activity against SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19).
So far, as Dr. Carpen said, there have been no adverse effects from the drug, but one patient, who was critically ill, could not be saved despite the drug’s responsiveness. Some of the patients are still under hospital supervision, but the doctor maintained that patients have been responding well.
“In fact, three persons have been discharged so far,” said Dr. Carpen, adding: “We will use the drug continuously once we have stock… we have been applying international guidelines and protocols in the use of this drug.”
Health authorities have so far tested 12,637 persons, with 10,102 being negative, and 2,535 positive. Some 98 of those cases were recorded within the past 24 hours.
Of the total positive cases, 1,464 persons have recovered, and 71 have lost their lives. The remaining cases include 160 persons in institutional isolation, 828 in home isolation, and 14 in the COVID-19 ICU.
MORE TESTS BEING DONE
Authorities have said that cases are being detected because more tests are being done. Sample taking was also increased across the country, because authorities had believed that many cases were going “under the radar”.
This suspicion had prompted authorities to distribute more sample kits across the country, especially to regions where the infection rate is high. Most of the cases have so far been recorded in Regions One (Barima-Waini), Four (Demerara-Mahaica), Seven (Cuyuni-Mazaruni) and Nine (Upper Takutu-Upper Essequibo).
“We are sending out more kits, so there will be an increase in sample collection… The testing itself has components; one is sample collection, and then there is the processing of samples,” said Minister of Health, Dr. Frank Anthony, in a recent report.
The actual testing will be done centrally, at the National Reference Laboratory, because regional facilities lack the capacity and technical skills needed to get it done. While government hopes to improve capacity in those regions, the immediate need for sample testing takes precedence, especially with the high number of asymptomatic cases.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), COVID-19 is an infectious disease caused by a newly-discovered coronavirus. Most people who fall sick with COVID-19 will experience mild to moderate symptoms, and recover without special treatment.
The WHO had said that 81 per cent of the persons who contract COVID-19 will have mild symptoms, while 14 per cent will have severe symptoms, and five per cent will need intensive care.
But the COVID-19 disease has proven to be “a real killer,” especially in cases involving persons who have co-morbidities such as diabetes and hypertension among other ailments.
Persons were encouraged to take extra precautions because there is no approved cure or specific treatment for the disease. Guyanese were also reminded to observe the protocols established in the COVID-19 emergency measures.
Anyone who displays any of the symptoms associated with COVID-19, or needs any additional information, can contact the COVID-19 Emergency numbers: 231 1166, 226 7480 or 624 6674 immediately, or visit the ministry’s website at www.health.gov.gy.