Elderly Region 9 men die after coming into contact with COVID-19 patients

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By Isanella Patoir

The COVID-19 situation in Region Nine is even more worrying for the South Rupununi District Council (SRDC) after two elderly men from the Potarinau Village died late Wednesday night and early Thursday after coming into contact with patients who were tested positive for COVID-19.

The men ages – 68 and 80 – died hours apart. The News Room was reliably informed that one of the men had direct contact with a positive COVID-19 patient while the other had a relative who also tested positive.

The News Room was further informed that both men had underlying medical conditions and displayed COVID-19 symptoms but died before health authorities arrived in the Village to test them.

The Ministry of Public Health has not publicly commented on this latest development.

When contacted, Programme Coordinator for the Council, Kid James told the News Room that the Village is currently making preparations to bury the men Friday and as such, they will not be tested for COVID-19.

The News Room understands that caretakers of the men have been tested and are now awaiting their results.

James further stated that wide spread testing is desperately needed in the Region or at least in the affected villages. Three villages in the South Rupununi – Potarinau, Sand Creek and Shulinab – have all confirmed cases of COVID-19.

However, Potarinau is of major concern at this time. This particular village is closest to the Brazilian border and due to heavy rains and flooding it is becoming difficult for officials to access the village.

James explained that limited tests are being carried out on a priority basis and the Council is also urging for contact tracing to be done in the Region.

“Those who were given priority for testing last week were those within the immediate families of those who tested positive,” James said.

Since the COVID-19 outbreak in the three villages, the Council has been closely monitoring the villages and providing assistance with donations from the Amerindian People’s Association (APA) and public citizens.

“We have been assisting in terms of getting food stuff to those villages, but places like Shulinab are doing it on their own in terms of assisting their sublet villages,” James said.

Another concern is shared farming grounds. James explained that is it normal for families to share farming resources in the villages, but the Village Toshaos are now encouraging the residents to go to the farms alone.

Teachers and students under quarantine

Meanwhile, it was also revealed that CSEC students and teachers in Sand Creek have been placed under quarantine. It is unclear how many teachers and students are under quarantine or if they were tested but medical teams were dispatched to a few villages to conduct testing recently.

“I know in Sand Creek we have received reports that some teachers and students from the dormitory that are writing CXC have been quarantine,” James said.

James highlighted that this health crisis may be here for a while and strategic planning is needed at the regional and national level to ensure the safety and health of the villages.

As of July 23, 2020 Region Nine confirmed 18 COVID-19 cases of which 11 were imported from Brazil. Of the 18, there are 13 active cases, one death and four recoveries.

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