COVID: Understaffed health system could reach ‘breaking point’

…with surge in cases, deaths

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The local healthcare system has been understaffed, even before the COVID-19 pandemic, and now with the surge in hospitalisations and deaths, it is possible that the health system could reach its breaking point.

This is according to the Chief Medical Officer (CMO) Dr. Narine Singh, who spoke to the News Room at the sidelines of an event on Tuesday.

The CMO emphasised that Guyana is experiencing another wave of COVID-19 infections. This wave, he explained, is being caused by a more aggressive coronavirus that has been attacking younger people too and resulting in an increase in hospitalisations and deaths.

Already, in the first two weeks of September, more than 60 COVID-19 deaths have been recorded. At the COVID-19 Intensive Care Unit (ICU) at the Ocean View hospital in Liliendaal, Georgetown, efforts are already being made to increase the number of beds to cater for the treatment of more people.

Additionally, the Health Ministry is preparing some regional hospitals for the increase in cases. At those hospitals, the CMO said that additional beds are being placed once the hospitals have the space to accommodate those beds.

Dr Narine Singh

“The reality is that we don’t have unlimited resources,” he lamented, however.

What is worse, according to the CMO, is that the surge in cases is going to place a strain on the healthcare workers too.

“We know the system, in certain areas, was understaffed even before the pandemic so you can imagine it’s going to put some strain on the system,” he said.

Later, he added: “… we hope that we don’t reach to that breaking point where we have to refuse admissions and so on.”

While Guyana is battling a surge in cases now, he said that the healthcare workers are “holding out” and the health ministry has been exploring some backup plans including hiring additional workers or devising a different shift system.

But, Dr. Singh said that the emphasis has to be on vaccination to prevent people from becoming hospitalised after experiencing the more severe symptoms associated with COVID-19.

The CMO also assured members of the public that the vaccines have been scientifically proven as tools that will help to protect people from experiencing the more severe and life-threatening forms of the disease.

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