Based on information circulating within the public domain, persons experiencing related Covid-19 symptoms who have been unable to reach the Covid-19 hotline have been turning up at public hospitals in their desperate attempt for medical attention.
The Covid-19 Hotline, based on feedback, has not been as effective as desired. Some calls are reportedly going unanswered, and in those instances where they are answered there is either a prolonged wait for attention or no visit whatsoever by medical staff. Given the potency, asymptomatic nature and viral spread of the coronavirus, the hotline and related home visitation system should be urgently enhanced and improved.
Visits to our public hospitals and medical institutions by suspected ‘covids’, not only place other members of the public there for unrelated medical attention at risk of infection, but also increase exposure risks to medical personnel. The latter is cause for greater concern, since we need these very medical staff to remain fit and healthy enough for continued service to our nation.
Recently, some medical staff were forced into quarantine after they unwittingly attended to infected Covid-19 carriers. Their peril was compounded by the apparent lack of system coordination and complacency by some of their fellow colleagues. The gravity of such lapses is both alarming and unacceptable. We should not have the lives of our medical personnel put at risk through inadvertence or error. There are now reports that one of the medical staffers, who attended to a male patient that recently succumbed to the Coronavirus, is also now hospitalised for contracting the virus.
It is our hope that what appears to be varied levels of confusion among some medical personnel as to when or at what stage of Covid-19 suspicion one should be tested, as well as faltering collaboration and communication between private and public health care institutions, is merely perception.
However, reports that the first victim came into contact with medical staff at a private facility before going to the Public Hospital where she later succumbed to the virus, exposes the vulnerability of our healthcare system.
There is also a recent video testimony made viral by a relative of another deceased victim in which he described his own disturbing experience. He accused the Health Ministry of denying him conclusive Covid-19 testing although he was referred by a private hospital following preliminary tests there, which revealed that he may have contracted the virus. The same person confessed that he had direct contact with several persons with whom he conducted business transactions.
It is clear to see that while the coronavirus has caught us all by surprise and continues to baffle medical professionals and scientists globally, we in Guyana need to be much more serious and better coordinated in our desperate quest to avert the type of devastation we are witnessing in other countries.
The Ministry of Public Health, and particularly the Epidemiological Department, is therefore called upon to urgently review screening, monitoring and staffing systems at all healthcare facilities, and further address deficiencies affecting the efficiency of the Covid-19 hotline.
Mr. Orette Cutting
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