48 persons cleared of Coronavirus, 26 under surveillance

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The Ministry of Public Health is currently monitoring 26 persons for symptoms of the Novel Coronavirus after they arrived in Guyana over the past week but there have been no confirmed cases thus far.

Chief Medical Officer Dr. Shamdeo Persaud in an interview with the News Room on Tuesday said a total of 75 persons entered Guyana from countries which have confirmed cases of the virus since January 18.

The passengers travelled from China, Japan, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, through Brazil, Finland and the United States of America.

Of that amount, he said 48 persons were cleared of the virus while 26 remain under surveillance and one person has travelled onto Suriname on the day of her arrival.

Those persons being monitored are isolated in their homes as this reduces their contact with others.

“They’re at home in isolation. Well we usually would say to them at the screening what the measures are and most people have readily accepted…” Dr. Persaud said.

Chief Medical Officer Dr. Shamdeo Persaud [Photo: Bibi Khatoon/News Room]
The Ministry in January implemented a system whereby persons travelling from/through affected countries have to be isolated for 14 days as this is the time taken for symptoms to be visible. This may be done at home or if symptoms are noticed, it will be done at a health facility.

Dr. Persaud is confident that systems put in place for increased screening at ports of entry will protect against the importation of the virus.

He noted that it is difficult to monitor open borders but the regional health authorities have been notified while increased medical practitioners have been deployed to certain locations.

“For the last six weeks, our systems in place to screen all of the regular formal ports. We have extended some of that to the other areas of entry. We can’t monitor some of the open borders between Brazil and Venezuela but we have alerted our health services,” the Chief Medical Officer said.

The Novel Coronavirus referred to as COVID-19 originated in Wuhan, China in December 2019 and has since spread to 104 countries around the world.

The cases in China have significantly decreased but cases outside of that country is now more than 111,000, with about 3,890 deaths.

One of the most affected countries is Italy which has been confirmed cases in all 20 of its regions.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned the virus can become a pandemic and several countries have implemented travel restrictions.

However, Guyana’s Chief Medical Officer said any travel restrictions to be instituted by Guyana will have to come from a Cabinet decision. Due to the current elections stalemate, it can be several weeks before a Cabinet is in place to make such a call.

The Ministry of Public Health in its last statement had disclosed that the Georgetown Public Hospital has a fully equipped 14-bed unit and Diamond Hospital and West Demerara Hospital have the capacity to isolate and manage cases of COVID-19. Additionally, seven private hospitals have the capacity to isolate suspected cases until a diagnosis can be confirmed while the National Reference Laboratory has been equipped to test locally for the Coronavirus.

The final tests will be done by the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) in Trinidad.

CARPHA on March 05 upgraded the risk of transmission of COVID-19 to the Caribbean Region to Very High. The revised risk level is based on international risk assessment guidelines, particularly in keeping with risk assessment for MERS-COV and pandemic influenza.

CARPHA Executive Director, Dr. Joy St. John stated: “CARPHA’s decision is also informed by reports of COVID-19 cases in non-English-speaking Caribbean countries in close proximity to CARPHA Member States and sustained transmission of the disease in countries with direct flights into the Caribbean region.”

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