Let us all be responsible and stop politicising COVID-19

The Ministry of Health rejects the assertion and insinuation made by Mr. GHK Lall in his recent letter published in Stabroek News, July 4, 2021. In his letter, Mr. Lall expressed shock at the statistics provided by Minister Frank Anthony relating to the number of children who tested positive since COVID-19 became an epidemic in Guyana. The Minister provided statistics showing that just over 1,500 children had tested positive for the COVID-19 virus since the epidemic started in Guyana. Mr. Lall wrongly accused the Minister and the Government of Guyana of concealing data for children who have been affected by the COVID-19 virus.

The fact is that since August of 2020, the Minister of Health and other Ministry personnel have been informing the public each time children were tested positive for the COVID-19 virus. Since the epidemic started, between 5 and 10% of positive cases in Guyana have been children between newborns and 16 years of age. Most of the cases have been asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic and were only detected through the MoH proactive surveillance program, such as testing in school dorms. The results of these tests have been in the public domain, even if persons like Mr. Lall may not have paid attention. While the Ministry in the past did not disaggregate the total results as per age group in our daily reporting, we highlighted those occasions when children were found positive for the COVID-19 virus, even if our reporting did not keep a running count.

We have always sought to caution people that the COVID-19 virus is transmissible across all age groups. In children, the disease is usually mild and often asymptomatic. However, in rare cases, children can become seriously ill and need hospitalization and intensive care. One of the possible adverse outcomes has been termed multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C). The overall mortality of MIS-C is approximately 1–2%. In all our engagement with the public, we tried to explain this risk that children face.

The percentage of infection among children in Guyana is not unlike what has been seen in other countries over time. In 2020, globally, children accounted for 3 to 12% of COVID-19 virus detection rates. In 2021, the rates have jumped to 22% in most countries due to various COVID-19 variants.

In Guyana, among the total detected cases so far, children represent about 7%. Even though Guyana has recorded children testing positive for COVID-19 in the past, as did every single country in the world, there is a big difference in recent weeks in Guyana. The increase in hospitalization of children with Covid 19 is worrying. It is the Minister of Health who immediately informed the public. When the Minister made the disclosure, it was the first time the country had four COVID-19 hospitalised children, and apart from COVID 19, each of these children had underlying comorbidities.

The recent more aggressive cases in adults and now some children underline the caution the Minister and the Ministry have been vigorously making the last several months that there is a more aggressive form of COVID-19 virus circulating in Guyana.

It is also the reason why we have been pushing the vaccination program so robustly among our people. Right now, the responsible thing is for us to encourage persons to get vaccinated to prevent hospitalization and deaths. The irony of Mr. Lall’s assertion about concealing data is that he received that data from the very person he is accusing of hiding it. This is irresponsible. He has not been paying attention, or he is mischievous in promoting his political agenda.

The Ministry of Health will continue to keep the public fully informed.


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.