Guyana in 3rd COVID-19 wave; virus attacking younger, healthier population
By Isanella Patoir
Guyana is now facing a third, more deadlier wave of the dreaded coronavirus, which is rapidly spreading across the country and attacking the younger population.
According to Advisor to the Ministry of Health, Dr Leslie Ramsammy, the infection is now more transmissible and there has been a rapid increase in infections recorded in Regions Three, Four and Six. What is even more worrisome is that this new wave is making the younger population sicker and Dr Ramsammy explained that more young people are showing symptoms of the virus and being are hospitalised.
During an interview with the News Room on Tuesday, Dr Ramsammy further explained that the virus mutates over time, and even though Guyana has no evidence of any of the imported new strains of COVID-19, there is a change in how the virus is being transmitted.
“The virus that is circulating now has learnt how to transmit itself more effectively, so you see an easier transmission occurring around the country and you see many young people now showing up with symptoms.”
The former Health Minister noted that while young people were being infected with COVID-19 since March 2020, now is the first time that they are getting infected with severe symptoms of the virus.
“Young people are now getting sicker….and it is also doing something else, it is making them sicker more rapidly. So the time span between getting infected and getting severe symptoms enough to require you being hospitalised and often time moved to the ICU is a shorter time span,” Dr Ramsammy revealed.
He said the virus is now more dangerous than it has ever been. In the beginning, the majority of the persons who were severely infected were older persons and persons with comorbidities, such as diabetes and hypertension. Additionally, the majority of the deaths recorded were persons who were also older and had comorbidities.
“Now there are healthy young people with no known comorbidities who are getting very, very sick; so it shows that the virus that is circulating in our country is itself changing and becoming a more deadly virus,” Dr Ramsammy stated.
NO TOTAL LOCKDOWN
Even with this deadlier wave of COVID-19 and over 160 positive COVID-19 cases recorded in recent days, along with a total of 10 COVID-19 deaths, Dr Ramsammy said a total lockdown is not advisable at this time.
“I don’t think we need to go to a complete lockdown. I think we have to ensure that people adhere to the public health measures and that is why we have the Joint Services to patrol to ensure that if people would not voluntarily do so, that we take measures to ensure that large gatherings are not allowed.”
Dr Ramsammy remains hopeful that citizens will start to act more responsibly so the government will not have to consider a total lockdown. According to him, a total lockdown will disrupt lives and businesses and “this government wants to see the country continuing life as normal as possible as the circumstances dictate and it is possible for us to remain relatively safe without a lockdown and so if people don’t want a lockdown they have to cooperate.”
Speaking about the seriousness of enforcing the COVID-19 measures, Dr Ramsammy said his influential status results in persons, including prominent members of society, contacting him when they get arrested.
“I have made it clear to them that if you get arrested because you were in a bar or hanging out in a large group by the police, don’t call me because I will tell the police to lock you up twice the amount of time.”
Over 100 persons were arrested at several bars over the long Easter weekend for breaching the national curfew and for being in spaces that violated the gazetted measures, which limit the occupancy in bars and restaurants to 40 per cent capacity.
“Getting sick and going in the hospital and probably not ever coming out makes a big difference and if it doesn’t make a difference to your life, it certainly makes a difference because you are not going to be around to know, but it certainly makes a difference to your families lives – so stay home,” Dr Ramsammy said in a plea to urge persons to stay at home and stop putting their lives and those of their loved ones at risk.
He posited that young people’s lives will not be greatly affected if they take a break from partying and liming during this time.
In the meantime, the national 10:30 p.m. to 4:00 a.m. curfew has been extended for the month of April along with the restrictions on social activities and other measures.
The restriction on private parties, wedding receptions, wakes and the usage of hotel pools remain in effect along with the closure of cinemas. Guyana on Tuesday recorded a total of 31 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the country’s overall number of confirmed cases to 10,637.