Guyana still considers COVID a health emergency; awaits global determination

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An Emergency Committee is expected to meet soon to determine whether the coronavirus disease is still a public health emergency.

Amid this wait, Minister of Health Dr Frank Anthony has said Guyana has not yet arrived at herd immunity. Therefore, unless the Emergency Committee convened by the World Health Organization (WHO) makes a declaration, Guyana will continue following COVID measures.

Dr Anthony on Thursday explained that several factors have to be considered before such a declaration can be made.

“The committee that deals with public health is going to have that meeting when they do meet, I think one of the things they will get is a global report on the epidemiological status of COVID,” Dr Anthony said.

The global report is obtained from each country showing the number of infections, deaths and vaccination uptake recorded.

Dr Anthony further explained that “The epidemiological situation and these new trends that are emerging with COVID and based on these analysis, if they believe that it’s time to bring an end to the pandemic then they would probably declare that, if not they would make their pronouncement that these measures continue and so forth.”

Minister of Health, Dr Frank Anthony (DPI, 2022)

On Wednesday the minister said “We take a lot of our guidance both from CDC and WHO, the WHO have a special committee responsible for all public health emergencies. That committee is scheduled to meet maybe in a month.”

Dr Anthony said Guyana has multiple existing measures inclusive of persons travelling to Guyana must show a form of vaccination against the virus.

The minister on Thursday noted that Guyana still has unrecorded cases and persons who are not vaccinated. He also said the vaccines that exist offer short term protection therefore persons have to take booster shots.

“The mere fact that people are getting re-infected shows that it is going to be tough to arrive at herd immunity and what we will have to learn to do is to live with the virus and at regular intervals be boosted with maybe the boosters,” he said, adding that “Unless a pan-coronavirus vaccine is developed that protects you and gives you a longer protection duration… we will have to keep repeating this vaccination very often.”

Recently the minister has pointed out that there has been a downward trend in COVID infections. However due to home testing and persons refusing to get tested, it is not certain that the infections have decreased or just the tests.

Seven new cases were recorded on Wednesday with four persons in the intensive care unit (ICU). Altogether, the total number of deaths from the pandemic has risen to 1,281 in Guyana following the death of an 88-year-old Region Four man on September 15, 2022.

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