As local health officials work to contain the spread of the Coronavirus, one of the major challenges is getting persons to adhere to the mandated 14-day isolation if they show symptoms or may have come into contact with persons who are infected.
Strategic Planning and Communications Manager of the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC), Chelauna Providence on Monday issued a public call for persons to take the disease seriously and protect themselves.
“There have been issues with people not taking personal responsibility, and this is not for confirmed cases but just people who have shown signs and symptoms, and we just keep re-enforcing that these people need to self-quarantine [and] seek medical help from the hotline and the professionals,” Providence told the News Room during an interview.
Guyana confirmed its first case of the COVID-19 on March 11. The patient –a 52-year-old woman of Good Hope on the East Coast of Demerara –visited the GPHC on March 10 and informed them that she was diabetic and hypertensive; she died the next day.
But doctors became aware of her travel history only after she died. The woman had returned to Guyana on March 7 after vacationing with relatives in Queens, New York and samples were taken from her corpse for testing which revealed she was infected.
The Health Ministry has since been monitoring the woman’s family and at the weekend, three other cases were confirmed including the woman’s husband who travelled with her from the United States, one of her children and another relative who lives at ECD house.
The GPHC has since quarantined its staff who came into contact with the victim.
It has also placed dispensers filled with hand sanitizer at the entrances and other locations in the hospital compound for the public to use.
Additionally, the gates to the facilities are closed with security officers ensuring that each visitor is at the right entrance to access the required services.
“We’ve increased our security to ensure persons are screened before they come into the compound, we’ve also set up screening areas at the four main entrances of the hospital to ensure that all persons who are coming in for visits are observed and persons who are coming in for admission or to see a doctor are pre-screened so that we can know if they are showing symptoms of COVID-19 so that they can be re-directed,” the Communications Manager explained.
Providence confirmed that the last three victims of the disease did not visit the Public Hospital since their samples were taken at their house where they are being monitored.
The Balwant Singh Hospital has also placed a tent outside of their East Street hospital where they are testing persons’ temperature and screening them before entering the hospital.
Some concerns were raised by residents on the East Coast of Demerara who believe more persons would have come into contact with the family before their symptoms developed.
Providence said, “the Ministry of Health has been…monitoring the families that we know have come into contact as well as sharing the information so people know what they need to do.”
The Ministry of Public Health in collaboration with PAHO/WHO has implemented the use of thermal guns at ports of entry and established a hotline –227-4986 and 624-3067 –for persons to contact if they are having symptoms of the disease.
Persons are warned against travelling to health facilities since it is easy to infect others.
According to the World Health Organisation, the most common symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, tiredness, and dry cough. Some patients may have aches and pains, nasal congestion, runny nose, sore throat or diarrhoea.
These symptoms are usually mild and begin gradually.
The disease, which originated in Wuhan China in December 2019 has now spread to 148 countries with Europe being the epicentre.
Some countries have put restrictions on travel but according to Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Shamdeo Persaud the Guyana Government cannot implement such restrictions given the current elections impasse. It was noted that only Cabinet can decide on a travel ban.
There have been more than 174,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus and over 6,700 deaths, according to the BBC.
The WHO said about 80% of persons recover from the disease without needing special treatment. Older people, and those with underlying medical problems like high blood pressure, heart problems or diabetes, are more likely to develop serious illness.