Moruca’s first COVID-19 patient spent over 21 days in quarantine before being tested

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By Isanella Patoir

The first confirmed COVID-19 patient in Moruca, North-West District, Region One, spent over 21 days in self-quarantine before being tested for the deadly virus.

The patient is an elderly man in his 60s who contracted the virus from a patient who tested positive in Georgetown.

The News Room understands that the elderly man was in Georgetown for a few weeks in April and stayed with relatives in Regent Street, Georgetown.

After he returned to Moruca the same month, he was contacted by the Ministry of Public Health who informed him that he was in contact with a positive COVID-19 patient and as such he should go into self-quarantine for 21 days.

He complied and after the 21 days ended and he was not tested or contacted again by any health official, he decided to leave his home for the first time and resumed daily activities.

He did not display any symptoms of the deadly virus.

“They would not have made any contact with him, no testing whatsoever and about a week ago, the 21 days would have finished and nobody made contact with him and he would have assumed it was okay because he didn’t show any symptoms, so he went about his normal life,” a relative, who prefers to remain anonymous told the News Room Wednesday.

The relative explained when the Ministry of Public Health finally decided to test the patient sometime last week, his results came back positive on Thursday, May 21.

To date, the patient is not showing any symptoms of COVID-19. Public Health authorities recently disclosed that as much of 40 per cent of Guyanese COVID-19 patients are asymptomatic.

“Why after having him in quarantine for so long nobody came to test him after so much time would have elapsed?” the relative questioned.

Since the man was tested positive, health officials have been travelling constantly to the area via helicopters to test residents of Moruca.

Residents believe that this could have been avoided had the ministry tested the patient earlier.

The News Room understands the man is originally from Moruca but lived in Lethem, Region Nine for quite some years. He visited Lethem to cast his ballot in the March 2 general and regional elections.

Meanwhile, residents in the area are claiming that the hospital and health officials are not prepared to deal with COVID-19.

“….because when he got his results they didn’t had the quarantine facility prepared, the site they identified didn’t had no washroom facilities and so it wasn’t until the next day that they came to collect him,” the relative explained.

This is contrary to what the Regional Health Officer, Dr Steven Cheefoon said last Thursday on Radio Mabaruma. According to Dr Cheefoon, the Kumaka District Hospital and staff have been working tirelessly to prepare for the fight against COVID-19.

The patient is now in isolation at a guest house in Moruca, which is being used as the institutional quarantine facility.

Other family members were also asked to self-quarantine, however, the relative said no measures were put in place to assist the family members during this time.

“They did not put any system in place for them to get food supplies because everybody here is not like we have it, it’s an Amerindian village and most of them are working people.”

Meanwhile, about ten staff members from the Kumaka District Hospital has also been placed into self-quarantine; they were tested on Tuesday and are awaiting results.

The News Room understands the hospital is now only accepting emergency cases.

Guyana on Monday recorded its 11th death from COVID-19. The victim, 59-year-old Vincent Torres was the second confirmed case in Moruca. He was the father of six, who resided at Santa Rosa, Moruca.

As of May 26, 2020, Guyana recorded a total of 139 cases of COVID-19.

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