DETECTING cases of the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) disease could be harder than expected, as a number of persons are asymptomatic, meaning they do not show signs of the disease.
Public health authorities reported that confirmed cases of COVID-19 moved from 113 to 116 over the past 24 hours, but over 35 per cent or over 40 persons are asymptomatic.
“You should note that over 35 per cent of our COVID-19 cases were actually asymptomatic – had no typical signs or symptoms such as fever, cough, shortness of breath etc…, so even if your temperature is normal, you have to continue to behave as if you have the virus,” said Deputy Chief Medical Officer (DCMO), Dr. Karen Boyle, during a COVID-19 update, on Friday.
This now brings to bear the fact that a person’s temperature may be normal, but it does not mean that they are not infected with COVID-19. As it is now, various medical institutions do preliminary screening by testing the temperature of persons, but additional measures may have to be employed.
Considering the prevailing circumstance, Dr. Boyle said: “You must continue to wear your mask, wash your hands frequently, maintain physical distancing, stay at home and immediately report to the COVID-19 hotline should any symptoms arise.”
Evident of the need to comply with the existing measures, is the fact that cases of COVID-19 have been increasing consistently, and the country has already lost 10 lives.
The recent increase was detected after 13 persons were tested over the past 24 hours. To date, health authorities have tested 1,065 persons for the disease, with 949 of those persons being negative. In addition to the high number of negative tests, some 43 of the infected persons have recovered and were medically cleared by health authorities.
“We continue to thank the health workers throughout the country who are participating in the fight against COVID-19 and highlight that the results of their hard work is evident in the number of recovered cases that we are seeing on a daily basis,” said the DCMO.
Some infected persons are, however, experiencing the severe forms of the disease. And, according to Dr. Boyle, three persons are in the COVID-19 Intensive Care Unit (ICU); 63 persons are in institutional isolation and five in institutional quarantine.
With the hope of detecting more cases of the disease, testing and screening will be expanded, said Dr. Boyle, adding that persons should make full use of the existing mobile units, which are available in some communities, mainly in Region Four (Demerara-Mahaica).
For the weekend and the upcoming week, the focus for the mobile testing activity will be in La Parfaite Harmonie on the West Bank of Demerara and South Ruimveldt.
“We are pleased to announce that very soon residents of Region Three and Six will have similar facilities available for their residents. Please refer to our Facebook page for a more detailed location of these units,” said Dr. Boyle.
Health authorities are working on strengthening the healthcare system to respond to COVID-19 on a long-term basis, and the potential and existing activities are a part of the plan to have a comprehensive COVID-19 health network, where patients across the 10 administrative regions will be able to access these services.
Region Four remains the epicentre of the disease, and there are a number of communities, outside of Georgetown, which have recorded cases. Among communities on the East Coast of Demerara (ECD) where cases were recorded are: Atlantic Gardens, Friendship, Golden Grove, Good Hope, Lusignan, Plaisance, and Strathspey. Among communities on the East Bank of Demerara (EBD) where there were cases are: Diamond, Grove, Land of Canaan, Providence, and Timehri.
“Please understand that transmission can only be reduced or stopped if we are able to separate those who test positive from those who are not infected.
“We hear the concerns of you our citizens in relation to your fellow countrymen as it relates to compliance with isolation and quarantine. On those matters we are hoping that the love we have for our families, fellow citizens and country will be enough to have us act responsibly and join forces with your local health authorities and the ministry of public health in containing this disease,” said Dr. Boyle.
Measures can be continuously implemented, but it is up to the individuals, that is the average Guyanese, to adhere to those measures and think seriously about flattening the curve (reducing the spread).
The disease, however, remains a serious issue, not just in Guyana, but globally. And, according to global statistics, there are over 4.2 million cases of COVID-19, with over 293,000 deaths. And with no approved treatment or cure, there is no assurance that persons will survive after contracting the disease. In the absence of approved medications, governments and authorities across the world have employed a number of preventative measures to contain the spread of the disease.
“We must reiterate that there is no approved treatment for COVID-19, however, clinical trials are being done at the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation, where the most severe cases are being treated,” said Dr. Boyle.
On a national front, government has extended its emergency measures to combat the dreaded disease, with the imposition of a 12-hour curfew on citizens. These emergency measures were taken pursuant to Paragraphs (1) and (2) (b) of the directive issued by the President, in accordance with the Public Health Ordinance, Cap. 145, and published in the Official Gazette, Legal Supplement B, on March 16, 2020. These measures have been extended to June 3, 2020.