It is important for us not to panic – President Ali

– Encourages vaccines, boosters and mask-wearing to tackle rise in Covid-19 cases

His Excellency Dr Irfaan Ali today encouraged Guyanese not to panic but to double down on preventative measures to counter the rising number of Covid-19 infections in the country.

In a press briefing to discuss his Government’s approach to the increase in cases, which is believed to be due to the omicron variant, the President called for persons to protect themselves and their loved ones.

“We know that this variant, based on the scientific evidence, and the experience we’re seeing throughout the world, is a super spreader and that it is easily transmittable.  No doubt, given those circumstances, we expect that there will be a greater degree of transmission, however, what we have also learned so far from the science and the experiences, is that vaccination with booster minimises the impact of this new variant.”

Adding to this, he said that to date, the infections are not as severe as the Delta variant, which is an encouraging sign.

“Although we have a high positivity ratio (more people testing positive), when you look at the translated effect in terms of hospitalisation, we do not have that steep increase in hospitalisation.”

The President, however, warned that a number of extenuating factors, including more unvaccinated infections, can increase hospitalisation. 

He again called for unvaccinated persons to get vaccinated and for those already with their first and second doses to get booster shots. 

Additionally, he stressed that both the vaccinated and unvaccinated should ensure that they are always masked up when outside of their private domain and pointed to the importance of not only stopping the transmission of the disease but minimising its virial load in case of infection.

“All the studies, scientifically everything that is available to us, show that there is only one thing we can do, whether you’re vaccinated or not and that is the wearing of masks when you’re outside and in public areas…. “We don’t have control over the variants and how they will operate, but we have control over our own actions.”

The President said that having self-testing kits to counter the long lines for PCR testing is being considered. 

He said that at the international level, some nations are encouraging home tests and that it is “something we have to look at also”.

MANAGING THE HEALTHCARE SYSTEM

Due to the high transmission rate of the variant, more health care workers are being infected, and the Government of Guyana, through the Ministry of Health, is hoping to keep this under control.

“Doctors, nurses, medical personnel, lab technicians, they are testing positive, and as a result of that, many of them would have to go into quarantine, so it is having an impact on the delivery of healthcare.”

The President said that similar challenges are also seen at the international level.   

“I want the population to understand that what we are faced with is what the entire global community is faced with. This morning I spoke to a number of prime ministers in the region, and the reports are the same; there are greater positive results among the population.”  

He said that Guyana, like the rest of the region, will continue to work on “managing the healthcare system, ensuring that our facilities are there, ensuring that our health personnel are protected to the extent that the healthcare system remains functional and we don’t have difficulties”.

LEADING THE CHARGE

The Head of State said that although a single death from Covid-19 is too much, Guyanese should be proud of the way officials have managed the pandemic.

He lauded the efforts of the frontline workers, the healthcare system, his Government, the private sector and civil society, along with the support of the National Task Force.

“When you talk about our management of COVID, we are very concerned about every single death, but we have had tremendous response from the international community. We have had many organisations talking about us being a model on how we manage COVID-19 and how we strike the balance. Just imagine for a moment, we are one hour away from Trinidad, we share a border that you can cross in a minute with Brazil, and we share a border with Venezuela—do the research on what is happening in those jurisdictions and where we are located and then do the analysis as to how we have managed, and I think all of us as Guyanese should be very proud….”

HAVE THE CAPACITY

Minister of Health, the Honourable Dr Frank Anthony, who was also at State House, said that the health care system is capable of dealing with the surge in infections.

“At the Ocean View Hospital, we have capabilities of hosting 195 patients. Right now we have 36 patients in the hospital with five of those patients in the ICU. So we still have a lot of capabilities there and in all of our regional hospitals. We have built capacity to be able to manage COVID-19 patients. So we have the capacity and our staff, they’re working and they’re prepared. They have worked over the last year and several months managing COVID patients so they have the experience and know-how to do this. And we feel very capable that we will be able to manage this particular spike that we are seeing.”

Several seasoned health care professionals were also at the press briefing. They also called for Guyanese to follow the necessary protocols in place and to get vaccinated or to get booster shots.

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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.