Guyana now projected to record 785 COVID-19 cases; PAHO supports phased re-opening of economy

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By Bibi Khatoon

Guyana is now projected to record 784 cases of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) by the Pan American Health Organisation/World Health Organisation (PAHO/WHO).

This new figure is a major reduction from the initial 20,000 projected on April 2.

According to PAHO/WHO country representative Dr William Adu-Krow, the previous model was revised and this major shift is due to the implementation of the COVID-19 emergency measures including the 6pm-6am curfew from April 3.

However, he said if the curfew and other restrictions are lifted on June 3 when the order expires, the number of COVID-19 cases in Guyana will rise to over 10,000.

“If everything stays the same for a while and we still have the partial lockdown as we do have, we are likely to have 785 cases or so but if we drop everything on June 3rd, we are likely to have over 10,000 cases,” Dr Adu-Krow told the News Room during an interview on Friday.

The National COVID-19 Task Force in a recent statement said it is considering the phased re-opening of the economy from June 3.

PAHO/WHO Country Rep in Guyana, Dr William Adu-Krow [Photo: News Room]
This move was supported by the PAHO/WHO representative who said: “our advice to Government is not to consider lifting all of the measures at the same time.”

“Phased approach normally starts off with the services needed most first…with the least risk,” he stated.

Dr. Adu-Krow noted that while the sectors will have to be looked at by the Government to make a determination of what is most needed, authorities will also have to look at the capacity of the healthcare system to deal with new cases.

“So the phased approach means introduce the one which is needed most but with the least risk and monitor it over a period of 2-3 weeks and if the health system can accommodate the stress, then you lift another measure, you look at it for 2-3 weeks, monitor it, if the health system can withstand that then you lift another measure,” he explained.

One of the last to be reopened may need to be the airports, Dr Adu-Krow said.

“Airport services, they are needed but it has one of the highest risks, therefore, you won’t consider airport reopening early, or if you are going to open the airport in a really phased approach for instance if Caribbean Airlines comes to Guyana three times a day, you want to cut it down to one flight per week and then you gradually increase it…” he explained.

As of May 28, 2020, 150 persons were tested positive for COVID-19, including 11 persons who died; there are currently 72 active cases.

In order to re-open the economy, Dr Adu-Krow said the health system needs to be equipped to address a spike in cases.

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