I have seen a video of someone who tested positive for the coronavirus and became severely ill. This person, prior to his infection, was robust and appeared in the peach of health.
What the virus did to that man was unbelievable. It has done extreme damage to his vitals. He is now a shadow of the man he once was.
As the number of positive COVID-19 coronavirus cases continues to spike, there is an urgent need for the government to consider a temporary restriction on the persons from Regions One, Seven and Nine leaving their regions.
The number of active coronavirus cases has already begun to overwhelm the health systems in those three Regions. The country is not equipped to deal with any continued escalation in cases.
The doubling rate of the virus has been shortened. Using a minimum of 30 cases, the first doubling took 11 days. This is not unusual in the early stages of an infectious outbreak. The second doubling took 34 days; the third doubling of the number of positive cases took 40 days. But the fourth doubling took only 35 days.
One way of determining how fast an infection is spreading is by looking at its doubling rate. Typically, the number of days which it takes for the number of cases to double should be increasing. But, as of yesterday, the number of days it took for the doubling of the number of cases decreased by five days. This suggests that the situation is fast getting out of control.
So far there have been 22 deaths and that is far too high, given the number of positive and serious cases. Of immediate concern, in this regard, is the fact that a disproportionate number of the deaths are young persons. Just a few days ago, a 34-year-old man died.
The government’s focus is correctly on containment and the best way to go about doing this is to have more testing done so that cases are identified early. There have been some criticisms about using rapid testing methods. But this is the best way of determining how widespread the infection has been. If a result from a rapid test comes back positive, the person can then be subject to a PCI test.
The lack of implementation has been the greatest failure of the national COVID-19 response. This column has bemoaned the reckless approach which was taken to have social restrictions which were not being implemented.
Persons, for example, were supposed to stay at home but this was very often been breached. Non-essential businesses were openly flouting the regulations. And even as late as last week, certain bars were opened when they ought to have been closed.
At present, all persons are supposed to wear a mask in the public. This is being openly flouted right across Guyana. If there is one immediate step which can and should be taken to contain this pandemic, it is that the police should be ensuring that this regulation is enforced.
But there is one aspect of the national response which has not received the desired attention. It concerns treatment. Last weekend, one of Kaieteur News’ Sunday columnists, Dr. Zulfikar Bux, wrote about the different types of treatment which are being utilized. One of those is the controversial hydroxychloroquine (HCQ). His view was that HCQ is effective in the early phase of the disease when the virus has not entered our cells enough to overwhelm our bodies.
He also mentioned the use of Ivermectin as being helpful in treatment. But no mention was made of a drug which is considered the greatest breakthrough in treatment of the coronavirus: dexamethasone.
It is vital that there be a comprehensive response to the pandemic, involving social controls such as isolating hot spots from the rest of the country, social restrictions and social distancing, the mandatory use of masks, enforcement and restricting cross-border travel and agreed upon protocols for treatment.
A vaccine is eventually going to be developed. Some predictions now stipulate that the vaccine could be ready before the end of the year. But there will be a lag before every country can receive the desired number of vaccines.
In the meantime, cases have to be suppressed. Health care has to concentrate on saving lives. Twenty-two deaths are way too many for the number of cases which we have. Treatment must not be neglected.
(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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