Elderly Aishalton man dies from COVID-19; village on lockdown

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By Isanella Patoir

A 96-year-old man from Aishalton Village in Region Nine (Upper Takutu-Upper Essequibo) is the country’s latest COVID-19 fatality, taking the country’s death toll to 263.

Simon Marcello, one of the elders of the village died on Thursday, a day after testing positive for the virus, taking the death toll for the month of April thus far to 30.

“His results came positive yesterday and this morning he died,” the Village’s Toshao, Michael Thomas, told the News Room.

The village proceeded on a strict one-month lockdown which took effect on Wednesday, April 14, after confirming nine positive infections.

Thomas said the situation in the village is worrying as those who tested positive are all symptomatic; their family members are also in quarantine waiting to be tested and are experiencing symptoms.

Thomas explained that residents began displaying symptoms about a week ago, after the Easter Holidays. The symptoms include severe headache, fever, joint and muscle pain along with a dry cough. Thomas said at first they suspected it was the flu.

“We had a lot of visitors coming in for the Easter weekend from Georgetown,” the toshao said.

Thomas further noted that the local health team is not capable of handling an outbreak of the virus. This is the first time that Aishalton is recording positive cases since Guyana recorded its first confirmed case in March 2020. The village has a population of just over 1,200.

“We are not prepared for COVID, we don’t have isolation facilities, we don’t have nothing. We are not prepared and we have a short staff at the hospital,” a worried Thomas said.

Guyana is battling a third, more deadly wave of the dreaded coronavirus, which is rapidly spreading across the country and attacking the younger population.

The Toshao, Michael Thomas, takes his COVID-19 vaccine

“A lot of those young persons within the homes are showing signs and symptoms; they are presently held as suspected cases,” Thomas stated. There are ten families in the village who are in quarantine. Contact tracing is also ongoing and it is likely that there will be a rise in infections.

“We will have a rise in cases, the medical team give us a rough figure that most likely 60 persons will test positive,” Thomas said.

LOCKDOWN

An emergency meeting was held on Wednesday after the village confirmed the first nine positive cases and instituted the lockdown. Only essential services will be allowed into the village while a strict 6 am to 6 pm curfew is also in place.

Persons coming from neighbouring Brazil will not be allowed into the village; the same applies to other visitors. However, persons from Lethem or Georgetown will have to quarantine in their homes for a given period.

All public meetings and social gatherings are suspended.

Villagers are being asked to cooperate with the medical team while residents must abide by all COVID-19 protocols, which include washing of hands, wearing a mask in public and maintaining social distancing.

The lockdown measures will be enforced by the Village Council with assistance from the police, army and health team.

Meanwhile, the village last week completed its COVID-19 vaccination programme with a total of 265 persons receiving their second dose.

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