Lethem Doctor on COVID-19 Task Force tests positive; colleagues in quarantine
By Bibi Khatoon
A General Practitioner at the Lethem Regional Hospital was on Sunday last tested positive for COVID-19.
Dr Narash Torres who was a part of the hospital’s COVID-19 Taskforce since the pandemic started, began experiencing mild symptoms of the disease on Friday after he visited several villages in the North Rupununi region to collect samples from residents for testing.
Dr Torres told the News Room that 48 samples were collected on that day and following a bout of dry cough, he also insisted on getting tested.
“I insisted to be swabbed because I had a dry cough and I was concerned, it was getting worse with time so I requested to be swabbed and on Sunday evening I got back my results and it was positive,” Dr Torres told the News Room in a telephone interview Tuesday.
His symptoms have since increased with a mild headache and nausea.
The General Practitioner was among 38 new cases recorded in Region Nine on Sunday; the total cases in the Region is 89 thus far.
Though he has been working with positive patients for months, Dr Torres said he never expected to become infected because he has been taking all the necessary precautions.
However, Dr Torres lamented the deplorable conditions under which doctors are forced to work and so he be believes the lack of adequate resources and facilities led to him becoming infected.
“We have been taking precautions [but] the conditions in which we work under is not up to standard, for example I was working in the isolation ward with symptomatic patients and the room where we put on our PPE (Personal Protective Equipment), the door could not have been closed, it was open into the ward with the patients so the AC was blowing into the room where we had to dress and so.
“I got a strong feeling that’s where I got infected,” the Doctor said.
As a result of his positive test, several doctors and nurses along with administrative staff at the Lethem Regional Hospital have been placed in quarantine for testing.
It is expected that they will be swabbed on Friday as the flights from Lethem which transports the samples only operates on Fridays.
The News Room understands that the isolation facility being set up in the Lethem Regional Hospital compound has not yet been completed. The facility will include an area for showering so that doctors can bathe after treating isolated patients.
“Now my biggest worry is the wellbeing of my colleagues on the front line… better must be done for us,” Dr Torres said in an earlier Facebook post.
Dr Torres is urging persons to take the disease seriously and to protect themselves.
He noted that while persons in the town of Lethem are taking precautions, residents in the villages have not been adhering to the guidelines. He attributed this to a difference in the culture and a language barrier since the Region is populated with persons from the Wapichana and Macushi tribes.
The General Practitioner is also pleading with the authorities to assist in blocking persons from crossing the border from Brazil as over 90% of the Region’s cases are imported from Brazil.
Regional Chairman Bryan Allicock told the News Room during a telephone interview on Monday that there is a shortage of food and sanitising agents and most importantly limited health workers.
One doctor told the News Room that they are also running low on isolation facilities while in some cases, they are forced to leave parents at their homes since there are no other relatives who can care for young children. Further, those children cannot be placed in isolation with other infected persons.