As this newspaper reported yesterday, the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) has claimed a sixth life in Guyana. The victim has since been identified as 77-year-old Colonel John Lewis, former head of the Guyana People’s Militia, prominent engineer, and sports enthusiast.
Colonel Lewis passed away on Tuesday evening at the Georgetown Public Hospital.
While the Ministry of Public Health did not immediately identify him as the sixth person, multiple sources have confirmed that this is the case.
The engineer lost his wife to pneumonia-related complications in late March, and his passing now would be a double blow for the family and a sports fraternity who knew, loved and respected him.
Friends said that the engineer had been assigned recently to the Sheriff Street/Mandela Avenue expansion project.
Lewis would have worked over the years in a number of areas, including at the state-owned water company.
President David Granger in a message of condolence said he was saddened at death of Colonel John Percy Leon Lewis.
Lewis, according to the Ministry of the Presidency, attended Saint Stanislaus College and later earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering.
His military career started on March 9, 1968 when he enlisted as a Second Lieutenant in the Guyana Defence Force (GDF).
Lewis would spend his entire military service in the Reserve Force of the GDF; the Guyana People’s Militia (GPM).
He was promoted to the rank of Colonel on January 1st 1999 and was the Commanding Officer of the 22 Battalion GPM.
“In over 30 years of military service to Guyana, Colonel Lewis greatly enriched the life and development of the Militia. Colonel Lewis was an avid sportsman and represented the GDF at rugby. He also played soccer, badminton and basketball. President Granger extends heartfelt sympathy to Colonel Lewis’s children, relatives and friends,” the statement said.
Lewis was close to the rugby association, and had been pushing for especially the development of youths.
Yesterday, a key spokesperson for government on the pandemic, Minister of Public Health, Volda Lawrence, confirmed that one more person had died. She, as indicated, did not name that person, but did disclose that the number of Coronavirus cases has increased to 37.
The conditions of three have worsened, she said, and those patients are in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) of the Georgetown Hospital.
According to Lawrence, 145 persons have been tested for COVID-19 thus far, with 108 negatives. She noted that the test results of the person who died on Tuesday evening confirmed that he was positive.
Also, as of Tuesday evening, the number of persons at the Ministry of Public Health’s isolation and quarantine facilities increased to 27 and 30 persons, respectively.
Additionally, Lawrence stated that seven individuals who had been quarantined and three individuals who were isolated were medically cleared, and were discharged yesterday.
As of yesterday, calls to the COVID-19 hotline totaled 1,627. These include calls from Regions 1, 2, 3, 4, 6 and 10.
“As you can see from our national statistics, our numbers of confirmed cases as well as deaths continue to rise. Have you considered that if we fail to adhere to the guidelines provided, that the possibility exists that our loved loves will be left to endure much suffering,” the Health Minister expressed.
Against this backdrop, she once more appealed to Guyanese to follow the guidelines stipulated by the Public Health Ministry.
“Just stay home. I beg you,” she appealed.
Lawrence also took time to appeal to Guyanese to utilize the recently launched app, which allows them to do their own screening for the COVID-19 disease.
Users can input their health data into the app which will be later analyzed by the Public Health Ministry. Suspected and high-risk cases are forwarded directly to health officials, after which the surveillance team will contact the individuals for testing and other actions.
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