Patients admitted to ‘COVID hospital’ doubled, says ICU doctor

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By Vishani Ragobeer

Over the past few weeks, the local health authorities have highlighted that Guyana has been experiencing a third COVID-19 wave that has started to affect the younger population and, so, Internal Medicine and Infectious Disease Specialist, Dr Dev Persaud, has noted that the number of patients admitted to the ‘COVID hospital’ has doubled.

Dr Persaud works at the National Infectious Diseases Hospital (also called the ‘COVID hospital) at Liliendaal, Greater Georgetown and has been treating patients who have presented with the more severe symptoms of the disease, COVID-19.

While speaking with the News Room on Saturday, Dr Persaud said that previously there would be about 15 to 20 patients in the COVID ward and about five to seven patients in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU). More recently, however, this number has increased to more than 40 patients in the ward and about 15 patients in the COVID-19 ICU.

Internal Medicine and Infectious Disease Specialist, Dr. Dev Persaud (Photo: News Room)

“Not only are the numbers higher but the patients are a lot sicker and they are coming from everywhere,” Dr Persaud lamented.

“COVID-19 is real, it is something that is affecting not only the most vulnerable in our society but at this point, any adult, at any age, is at risk and it is causing a lot of havoc in multiple places, not just limited to the coastland.”

SYMPTOMS & TREATMENT

In Guyana, many of the people who are infected with the SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) are asymptomatic; this means that they generally do not display symptoms of COVID-19. Some individuals have moderate symptoms including fever, cough, cold, shortness of breath on exertion, vomiting, diarrhea, muscle pains and headaches.

The patients who are admitted to the National Infectious Disease Hospital, however, are those patients who present with severe symptoms.

“The ones that tend to end up in the ICU are persons who have a lot of respiratory symptoms to the degree that they are not able to do basic activities, for example – walking five or 10 feet without having shortness of breath, or they are not able to complete their sentences when they are talking to you because they are so short of breath,” the Infectious Disease Specialist explained.

A progressive treatment regimen is used on these patients. The doctor explained that it begins with giving the patients some medication such as dexamethasone and/or remdesivir and oxygen, to help with their breathing.

“It starts off with one source of oxygen and eventually, we may need to give them two sources of oxygen and eventually in addition to giving them that large volume of oxygen, we need to add some pressure into it and at that point, we need to take them to the ICU,” Dr Persaud said.

If the COVID patient does not improve at this point, they are intubated. That is, a tube is placed down the throat of the patient and into the lungs. This tube is attached directly to the ventilator to help the patient to breathe.

What intubation looks like (Mohammed Haneefa Nizamudeen/ Getty Images)

“This is the series of events that you will usually notice in patients who have progressive deterioration in terms of their breathing,” Dr Persaud said.

With hospitalisation increasing and Guyana also recording an increase in the number of COVID-19 deaths, Health Minister, Dr Frank Anthony, during his daily COVID-19 briefing on April 8, 2021, posited that vaccinations could prevent individuals from becoming hospitalised with the more severe symptoms of the disease, COVID-19.

He also posited that fully vaccinated persons, that is, persons who received both doses of their vaccines (for those vaccines given in two doses) could be saved from the fatal effects of COVID-19.

Dr Persaud agreed with this assertion and noted that the benefits of the vaccines outweigh the risks that may be associated with getting vaccinated.

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