Spikes will happen: Health Minister explains increase in COVID-19 deaths as part of ‘global trend’

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By Kurt Campbell

Recognising that just about three per cent of the over 2,500 persons who have tested positive for COVID – 19 in Guyana are now dead, Health Minister Dr Frank Anthony has expressed deep concern for what is now a spike in COVID 19 related deaths over the last month.

The Minister said this spike in deaths is likely to continue unless Guyanese seriously considers and take the preventative measures to flatten the curve.

“Spikes will happen and when you look at the trend in Guyana…they are variables to why this happens and we are going to see cases go up,” the Minister said in an invited comment to the News Room on Thursday.

“This is not a Ministry of Health problem, this is a societal problem,” he added, recognising the failure of citizens to adhere to the guidelines to prevent the spread of the disease, including wearing face masks and social distancing.

“When you go to parties and congregate you contribute to the spread and we don’t know who is spreading it (for those asymptotic persons).

“…when you go to the cookshop and have a beer while waiting on your food you are also taking a risk,” he added.

Health Minister Dr Frank Anthony [Photo: News Room/September 24, 2020]
Minister Anthony said the Ministry of Health needs the help of the population to curb the spread of the virus here.

“All of us has to; it is not one set of people – its everybody that has to do their part. Please, we do our best from the clinical side but at the end of the day this is about prevention,” he added.

Guyana recorded its first COVID-19 case and death on March 11, 2020, and while other countries have done well to flatten the curve, the situation here is worsening.

Five months after the first death, the total number of deaths had risen to 41 by the end of August, representing the beginning of a steady increase in deaths and positive cases.

But in three weeks, the number of deaths almost doubled, now standing at 71.

Anthony said the trend is similar to what is happening globally.

“These numbers, when you look at what is happening globally, is similar in other countries. We would prefer not to have any death but the reality is that we are having deaths,” he added.

Dr Anthony said a large amount of those deaths account for elderly persons and others with comorbidities – underlying conditions such as cancers, heart disease, HIV, Malaria, TB and diabetes.

Minister Anthony said Guyana has begun using Remdesivir to treat critically ill patients.

Remdesivir is an anti-viral drug administered by Intravenous (IV) Therapy to COVID-19 patients suffering from severe symptoms.  It is known as a nucleoside analogue, which means that it mimics a component of viral Ribonucleic acid (RNA) that the virus needs to replicate itself.

But even with a worsening of the situation here, countries close to Guyana have also recorded devastating figures in COVID-19 cases and deaths.

A look at Guyana’s neighbours would show that Suriname has recorded a total of 4,740 cases with 97 deaths, Brazil has recorded 4,558,068 cases with 137,272 deaths and Venezuela a total of 67,443 with 555 deaths.

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