102 COVID-19 deaths at GPHC since March
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Guyanese-born former Vice-Chancellor of the University of Fiji, Professor Prem Misir
Guyanese-born former Vice-Chancellor of the University of Fiji, Professor Prem Misir

– Professor Misir knocks Guyana’s management of pandemic prior to August

THERE have been 102 COVID-19 deaths recorded at the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC) since March, according to the hospital’s Head of Medical Services, Dr Mahendra Carpen.

At a recent training with members of the media, Dr. Carpen shared that 61 persons died in the COVID-19 Intensive Care Unit (ICU), 20 died in the emergency room, 17 in the transition ward and four in the regular wards. Combined, this shows that 102 deaths were recorded at the GPHC.

GPHC Head of Medical Services, Dr Mahendra Carpen

As of November 20, a total of 245 persons were admitted to the COVID-19 ICU of which 233 tested positive for the novel coronavirus. The COVID-19 ICU was developed as part of the GPHC’s efforts to deal with the “sickest people with COVID-19”, according to Dr. Carpen.

But a number of persons died due to COVID-19, and other complications (such as having co-morbidities), in other parts of the hospital. For the 20 persons who died in the emergency room, Dr. Carpen explained that this meant that persons would have been infected for a number of days before going to the hospital for treatment.

If someone tests positive for COVID-19, current research shows that you would have been exposed to the virus at least about seven days before; symptoms are developed about a week or two after.

“If someone comes to the emergency room at day one and [a COVID-19 test] comes back positive, there is almost an impossible scientific way for them to be in the emergency room, to pick it up the same time and test positive at the same time. They would have come to hospital with it,” the doctor said.

It is for this reason, he explained, that persons who die in the emergency room did not contract the deadly virus while there.

‘WORRISOME’
Meanwhile, Guyanese-born former Vice-Chancellor of the University of Fiji, Professor Prem Misir, said that Guyana’s COVID-19 numbers are worrisome.

“It is important to understand if you didn’t do early interventions, you’re going to have some serious problems with COVID-19 and Guyana is a good case in point and there were some troubling scenarios,” Professor Misir said at another recent health forum, which was organised by the Texila American University.

According to recent figures provided by the Ministry of Health, Guyana’s positivity rate (or the percentage of positive COVID-19 tests) stands at about 18 per cent. This figure is much higher than the World Health Organization (WHO), which suggests that the rate should be between three and ten per cent.

“The per cent of COVID-19 positive [the positivity rate] is a key measure of virus prevalence in areas tested and if testing levels are in-step with levels of the virus spread,” the Professor explained, adding, “a low number of tests could yield a high per cent of COVID-19 positive, as may be Guyana’s case with only about approximately 13 per cent of tests being done.”

He stressed that high positivity rates could signal a high transmission rate, which may also mean that it is possible that there are more people who have COVID-19 in communities but who are not being tested.

He later lamented that Guyana’s testing regime in the first few months of the pandemic was “very troubling” and emphasised that now, even as testing has been ‘ramped up,’ more testing should be done.

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