(GUYANA CHRONICLE) – AMIDST a rise in the number of Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) cases and deaths in Guyana, Minister of Public Health, Volda Lawrence, has pleaded with Guyanese to stay home unless it is absolutely necessary to go out.
“We in the health sector beg of you to co-operate with us and just stay home,” said Minister Lawrence during a virtual update on the COVID-19 situation in Guyana, on Tuesday. The number of local cases has moved from 31 to 33, with the COVID-19 related deaths also moving from four to five. Of the persons infected, the minister said four persons are in the COVID-19 Intensive Care Unit (ICU) and one of those persons is critical.
In stressing the need for persons to stay at home in light of those figures, Minister Lawrence said: “The numbers of confirmed cases and deaths are rising…we wish to reiterate that we can stop the transmission and reduce deaths if you follow the provided guidelines.”
“You will not escape the virus if you continue to operate as if you do not care. COVID-19 is real and it is a killer, so help us to help you stay alive. If you do not adhere it is likely that you will contract this disease and probably die.”
Globally, there are 1,210,956 cases of COVID-19, with close to 70,000 deaths. And, with no approved treatment or cure, there is no assurance that persons will survive after contracting the disease. In the absence of approved medication, government and authorities across the world have employed a number of preventative measures to contain the spread of the disease.
Locally, government had extended its emergency measures to combat the dreaded coronavirus with the implementation of a 12-hour curfew on citizens. These emergency measures were made pursuant to paragraphs (1) and (2) (b) of the directions issued by the President, given under the Public Health Ordinance, Cap. 145, and published in the Gazette, Legal Supplement B, March 16 2020, government said in a notice Friday evening.
The measures took effect from April 3, 2020 and will last for one month unless earlier terminated, extended or amended by notice of the Minister of Public Health, after an assessment of the prevailing public health conditions.
Speaking about the curfew, Minister Lawrence said: “The curfew was established with the aim of stopping the transmission, yet it is evident that persons do not understand the seriousness of the situation and they continue to congregate in groups.
“Your co-operation is critical. I am begging you, stay at home…during the day, if you must go out ensure nose and mouth are covered…protect yourselves from these droplets that infect persons with the disease.”
In her update on Tuesday, the minister said the curfew will remain in effect until May and will change based on the response from Guyanese.
Guyanese must adhere to the measures in place or else the situation could be exacerbated. Already, some 132 persons have been tested for the disease, of which 33 were positive and 99 were negative.
Minister Lawrence said there are 24 persons in institutional isolation. The minister said 17 of those persons are from Region Four (Demerara-Mahaica); four from Region Three (Essequibo Islands-West Demerara); and one each from Regions One (Barima-Waini), Five (Mahaica-Berbice) and Seven (Cuyuni-Mazaruni).
Additionally, there are 38 persons on institutional quarantine of which 22 are from Region Four, 10 are from Region Three; Two from Region Two (Pomeroon-Supenaam); Three from Region Six (East Berbice-Corentyne); and one from Region Eight (Potaro-Siparuni).
As of Tuesday, calls to the COVID-19 hotlines totalled 1,543. These calls were from Regions One, Three and Four.
The public health ministry, and, by extension, government, has already employed a number of measures to curb the spread of the virus. The existing efforts, such as the COVID-19 hotline, will be supplemented after the ministry rolls out a self-test APP.
Through the app, persons will be able to self-test and upload their information which will go directly to the ministry’s surveillance team. Persons will then be contacted by the team if deemed necessary. Persons can access the app at COVID-19.health.gov.gy.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), COVID-19 is an infectious disease caused by a newly-discovered coronavirus. WHO said most people infected with the COVID-19 virus will experience mild to moderate respiratory illness and recover without requiring special treatment. Older persons and those with underlying medical problems such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease, and cancer, are more likely to develop serious illness.
WHO believes that the best way to prevent and slow down transmission is to be well informed about the virus, the disease it causes and how it spreads.
“Protect yourself and others from infection by washing your hands or using an alcohol-based rub frequently and not touching your face. The COVID-19 virus spreads primarily through droplets of saliva or discharge from the nose when an infected person coughs or sneezes, so it’s important that you also practise respiratory etiquette (for example, by coughing into a flexed elbow),” WHO advised.