Health authorities on high alert and prepared

as seven confirmed Novel Coronavirus cases in the Americas

DPI, Guyana, Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Local health authorities are on high alert and are prepared for any possible case of the new Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) hitting these shores.

The major ports of entry have all been made ready should a case enter this jurisdiction.

Minister of Public Health, Hon. Volda Lawrence assured the media at a PAHO/WHO Press Conference on Tuesday that the ministry would continue to cover all bases and monitor the immunisation status of all persons entering Guyana.

The virus was identified as the cause of an outbreak of respiratory illness first detected in Wuhan Province, China. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention describe symptoms as those commonly experienced with contraction of influenza (flu). The incubation period is believed to last between two and 14 days.

An incubation period begins from the moment of exposure to the infectious agent until signs and symptoms of the disease appear.

Minister Lawrence said the ministry has adequate drugs in stock and if necessary, will utilise resources from its 2020 funds allocation.

Meanwhile, Chief Medical Officer, Dr Shamdeo Persaud, said additional health officers and medics have been deployed in all health districts.

He added that the health authorities were working towards sensitisation training and capacity building.

Points of entry in Lethem, Moleson Creek, Georgetown and New Amsterdam have put measures in place to deal with any possible infection while health outposts in border communities have been placed on high alert and are making the necessary preparations.

The MoPH has created a screening mechanism which it describes as sufficient for the low-risk Guyana currently faces.

The new coronavirus is spread ‘person to person’ through bodily fluids according to PAHO/WHO representative Dr William Adu-Krow.

He noted that work had been ongoing to sensitise the public about measures it could take to reduce their risk for infectious diseases of this nature.

Currently, there are 4,564 confirmed cases worldwide in 14 countries with 52 of those cases occurring outside of China. North, South and Central America have a combined seven confirmed cases.

Cautioning citizens against sharing inflammatory messages and misinformation, Minister Lawrence reiterated her ministry’s readiness to handle the situation, a sentiment echoed by the PAHO/WHO representative.

“We have enough experiences to deal with it [and] PAHO/WHO is prepared to support the Ministry of Public Health,” Dr Adu-Krow said.

Deputy Chief Medical Officer Dr Karen Gordon-Campbell noted that the Georgetown Public Hospital is working to boost existing safety measures.

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COVID-19 Alert!

Coronavirus disease spreads primarily through contact with an infected person when they cough or sneeze. It also spreads when a person touches a surface or object that has the virus on it, then touches their eyes, nose, or mouth. We urge citizens to practice good hygiene and social or physical distancing also adhere to the guidelines provided by the Ministry of Health, Guyana.