Child, 16, dies in COVID-19 ICU

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By Vishani Ragobeer

The 16-year-old patient who was receiving critical care in the COVID-19 Intensive Care Unit (ICU) at the National Infectious Diseases Hospital at Liliendaal, Georgetown died within the last 24 hours.

This is according to the Minister of Health, Dr. Frank Anthony, who was responding to questions from the News Room on Friday during his daily COVID-19 update.  He also highlighted that the child had a form of cancer, which is a comorbidity.

“Here is a patient relatively young with a comorbidity and dying from COVID,” the Health Minister lamented.

A comorbidity, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO), refers to the presence of one or more additional diseases or disorders in the same individual. For example, an individual who is affected by COVID-19 is said to have a comorbidity if that individual also has an underlying condition such as cancer, diabetes, hypertension, or asthma.

This is the third child to have died from the disease in Guyana. Previously, an 11-year-old cancer patient who died at the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC) on November 6, 2020, was later classified as a COVID-19 death. In May, this year, a young 17-year-old boy also succumbed after he was infected with COVID-19.

Health Minister Dr. Frank Anthony

As of Friday also, the Health Minister said that there are seven other children in the hospital but not in the COVID-19 ICU. This is an increase from the number of children previously hospitalised.

During his update on Thursday, the Health Minister announced that the 16-year-old child was one of the 11 patients in the COVID-19 ICU. Then, he also said that there were 42 other patients who were hospitalised in this facility and were receiving care after they were affected by the more serious symptoms of COVID-19. Of those 42 patients, three were children.

On Friday, the Health Minister emphasised that parents and guardians need to take precautions with children since the coronavirus that is circulating is very different from the original strain where children would have only faced the milder symptoms of the disease.

“… We are seeing children now are being affected in a more adverse way (and) so over the last month or so, we have seen more hospitalisation with children,” Dr. Anthony said.

Meanwhile, earlier in the month, the Health Minister had said that a “disturbing trend” has been observed where, over the past few weeks, more children are becoming severely ill.

When asked about the ministry’s plan to deal with the effects of COVID-19 on children and specifically, children with comorbidities, the minister said that parents and guardians must take the necessary precautions such as ensuring masks are worn, practicing social distancing, and avoiding crowds to protect the children.

“For example, if you know a child is at a higher risk for a particular disease because of their comorbidity, then they should be wearing a medical mask because that’s one way of protecting yourself,” he explained.

He also advised parents and guardians to consult with the children’s doctors.

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