APNU+AFC did not test samples from persons who died with COVID-19 symptoms

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Minister of Health Dr Frank Anthony on Thursday revealed that the former APNU+AFC Government did not test samples from dead persons who displayed COVID-19 symptoms.

“When you have a person who had all the clinical symptoms of COVID-19 and they passed away, the staff was instructed not to take a sample from those patients so that we wouldn’t test them and therefore, those deaths would not be accounted for as a COVID-19 death,” the Health Minister said during his presentation on the 2020 national budget on Thursday.

As of September 17, Guyana recorded 61 COVID-19 related deaths – more than 50% were recorded after the new Government took office on August 2.

Dr Anthony alluded to a model from the World Health Organisation (WHO) which will be used to determine excess deaths during the pandemic.

“…we will be using that methodology and we will be showing you [the former Government] that all the mistakes that you made then, that we will bring it to light,” the Health Minister told the National Assembly.

What Dr Anthony referred to is excess mortality – a term used in public health to refer to the number of deaths from all causes during a crisis compared to what would have been expected under ‘normal’ conditions.

The methodology also examines deaths that were not correctly diagnosed and reported as well as deaths from other causes that were attributed to COVID-19.

In addition, the Health Minister accused the former Government of “a cover-up of statistics” noting that this was the reason why all COVID-19 results were sent to the former Health Minister Volda Lawrence directly before it reached the doctors.

“From the top to the bottom, the response by the APNU+AFC was a flawed one… the political directorate was clueless,” he said.

According to the Minister, the ventilators purchased prior to August 2 were built for ambulances and not the Intensive Care Unit (ICU).

As such he said, “when they started putting it in the ICU, after a couple hours, they were shutting down.”

The Minister pointed out that since assuming office, the PPP/C Government was able to increase testing from 25 per day to 200-300 per day.

The Ministry was also able to source more Personal Protective Equipment for frontline workers and put a programme in place to treat patients more effectively.

The Government has also procured an antiviral drug- Remdesivir –which is used on critical COVID-19 patients and began engagements with the Global Vaccine Alliance and Russia to source the first set of approved vaccines for Guyanese.

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