Mar 15, 2020 News
All ports of entry remain open but the Ministry of Public Health has assured that it is aiming to significantly ramp up its COVID-19 response efforts. This is in light of the Ministry’s confirmation of a second case of the novel coronavirus yesterday.
It wasn’t long after, that this publication was advised that the country’s total coronavirus infection toll had jumped to four. The first case of the virus, which was confirmed on Wednesday, was that of a 52-year-old woman who recently travelled with family members from the United States.
She died the same day that that Ministry announced the confirmed case.
The three other confirmed cases, this publication has learnt, are the woman’s husband, her son and another relative. They are all said to be in full quarantine, a Ministry official intimated yesterday.
Self-quarantine has also been recommended for other family members who were in contact with those who tested positive. There are, however, reports that suggest that some of them have not been strictly adhering to the rules of quarantine.
Although cautioned not to allow entry to one of the dead woman’s daughters, the woman arrived here a few days ago from the United States. She too was advised to self-quarantine. She had displayed symptoms of the disease.
According to Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Karen Boyle, as many as 200 persons could have been exposed to the dead woman alone since her arrival in Guyana last weekend.
Dr. Boyle revealed that among those who have since been quarantined are 41 health workers who attended to the woman at the GPHC.
The dead woman, this publication reported, was rushed from a Good Hope, East Coast Demerara residence to the hospital with pneumonia-like symptom consistent with an advanced phase of the virus on a weakened immune system.
Pneumonia or difficulty breathing is one of the symptoms associated with the coronavirus. The virus can also manifest with symptoms including a runny nose, sore throat, cough and fever.
It was revealed that after she started developing worrying symptoms, she was first rushed to a private doctor’s clinic. The doctor was not available at the time.
The woman was then taken to a private hospital where her condition was assessed and a decision was made to refer her to the GPHC, the country’s lone tertiary health facility. There she died.
The novel coronavirus first emerged in Wuhan, China during the latter part of last year. The virus has infected in excess of 100,000 people in more than 100 countries and over 4,000 have reportedly died as a result.
Even as the local health sector shares plans that should see its efforts to prevent an outbreak of the virus ramped-up, the Ministry is urging all persons who believe they have been exposed to make contact with the Ministry by calling telephone number 227-4986 [ext. 215] between the hours of 8am and 4:30pm and 624-6674 and 624-2819 between the hours of 8am and 4:30pm.
The Ministry is advising that persons do no panic and follow the usual health protocols to ward off respiratory viruses.
These measures include “frequently clean hands using soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub if your hands are not visibly dirty; when coughing and sneezing cover mouth and nose with flexed elbow or tissue.
Throw tissue away immediately and wash hands; avoid close contact with anyone who has a fever and cough by keeping a distance of at least one to two metres (three – six feet) from them and resist the habit to touch your face”.
Meanwhile, UN Secretary General António Guterres, by way of a statement on the coronavirus, pointed out that “We are facing a health threat unlike any other in our lifetimes.”
But according to him, preventing the further spread of COVID-19 is a shared responsibility for all. In this regard, Guterres said the UN, including the World Health Organization, is fully mobilized. “As part of our human family, we are working 24/7 with governments, providing international guidance, helping the world take on this threat.”
Guterres said too that, “The social and economic fallout from the combination of the pandemic and slowing economies will affect most of us for some months. The spread of the virus will peak [but] our economies will recover. Until then, we must act together to slow the spread of the virus and look after each other,” he added.
The UN Secretary General made it pellucid, “This is a time for prudence, not panic. Science, not stigma. Facts, not fear,” even as he pointed out that although the situation has been classified as a pandemic, it is one that can be controlled.
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