After one month in which there were no COVID-19 deaths, Guyana has registered two deaths in three days. This is a wake-up call that the worst is far from over.
The deaths of a resident of Bartica and another from Albouystown have come as a reminder that COVID-19 cannot be taken for granted. This is one of the most dangerous infectious diseases to afflict mankind over the past 100 years.
Even more worrying is the age-range of the two latest victims. The two persons who succumbed over the past three days were ages 42 and 34 respectively. They were young persons.
This age-range is not considered a high-risk. The age range 18-44 records far fewer deaths worldwide than persons in older-age ranges. Most of the deaths worldwide have been persons above the age of 55, with persons over the age of 75 being the worst affected.
The recent deaths therefore are a worrying development especially considering that some local elderly patients had recovered from the virus. It raises a number of questions which cannot be answered because of the scarcity of information which is being provided.
The daily COVID-19 bulletins issued by the Ministry of Public Health are an insult to the people’s intelligence. It is a statistical scorecard. It does not state where the new cases are located. And that cannot be helpful.
The infection rates in Regions One and Seven represent an indictment against the public health authorities. They have failed to have regional strategy and therefore have failed to best use the regional resources.
Three months has passed since the epidemic in Guyana and it is only now that a handful of persons are being given vouchers. These persons had to apply. This is totally unacceptable. If a regional approach had been taken, the regions could have done more in ensuring that the needy within their jurisdictions would have been assisted.
The country is breaking at the seams. People are suffering while the government is fiddling with trying to stay in power rather than attending to the needs of the people.
Many non-essential businesses have had no choice but to reopen. They have no choice; it is either that or immediate bankruptcy. Many laid off workers are finding it impossible to make ends meet. They need to get back to work. But from the recent spike in cases, it appears as if they will have to wait much longer.
A total lockdown should have been implemented since March. If that had happened, the country would have been in better shape than it is in today.
When the pandemic first broke, people were worried that China, the world’s most populous country, would have registered tens of millions of deaths. Nineteen countries have since surpassed China in terms of total deaths. The United States has so far registered more than 131,000 deaths, two times more than Brazil which has 61,000 deaths and the United Kingdom with almost 44,000 deaths.
The reason why China has been able to avert a greater catastrophe is because it took decisive action. It ordered an immediate shut down. As such, the country has been able to suppress the virus.
The same cannot be said for the United States. There is now a second spike in the country and the original estimate of 140,000 deaths is now likely to be surpassed. That country is now projected to register more than 200,000 deaths as compared to the under 5,000 in China.
Guyana should have learnt from the experiences of other countries. Instead, it implemented half-measures which were poorly enforced. As such, it has now reached a stage where the management of the epidemic is now being questioned. Instead of the opening of the economy, there is likely to be further delays; instead of a reduction in new infections, there has been a dramatic spike in recent weeks, instead of reduced deaths in the 18-44 age ranges, there have been two new deaths over the past three days.
(The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of this newspaper.)
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