Newer strains of COVID-19 can still pose a challenge − Dr Anthony

The COVID-19 pandemic is not over and Minister of Health, Dr Frank Anthony is not ruling out the possibility that newer strains of the virus may still pose a challenge to the health system.

The Omicron variant of the COVID-19 virus has had several subvariants that affected the globe.

Subvariants like the BA 1, BA 2, BA 3, BA 4, BA 5, BA2.75 and others that are continuously evolving, making the future of the pandemic uncertain.

Minister of Health Dr Frank Anthony making remarks at the workshop

“If these strains become dominant and they have a totally different clinical picture, then we might have trouble all over again and that is why we have to be prepared, because we don’t know what these future variants are going to be like and whether they will cause more hospitalisation, some of the researchers are predicting that as winter is coming, in some of the temperate countries, you will start seeing a new surge of cases and if that is the case then we have to be prepared.

“During this pandemic one of the interesting things that we were doing, when we saw something in the US in two to three weeks’ time, we will see it here in Guyana because of the connections and so forth so if we start seeing a surge in the US, I think we ought to be prepared,” Dr Anthony said.

Participants of the training

The health minister noted that even the current low numbers do not accurately reflect the rate of infection, since most people are mistaking it for the flu and not visiting health facilities.

“While we are not seeing a lot of cases here, we must not be lull into a false sense that there aren’t cases, the big challenge that we have I think there is a lot of covid fatigue, if there is such a term, meaning that people just fed up, nobody wants to wear a mask, nobody wants to come and get vaccinated so we have this challenge, but we are going to see people getting sick anyhow,” Dr. Anthony said.  

Participants of the training

Health workers from across the country are currently engaged in a two-day workshop on Intensive Care Units Management as part of a COVID-19 response programme.

The programme is a collaboration between the Ministry of Health and the Clinton Health Access Initiative.

Dr Anthony noted that preparedness is important, since at the start of the pandemic, the health system was not prepared to deal with this and a lot of adjustments had to be made.

Participants of the training

This is just one aspect of the collaboration; antigen tests were also donated to Guyana, and training in COVID-19 protocols for diagnosis and treatment among others. 

“I think that the preparedness that we are working on now will help us to be better prepared for any future pandemic and that’s why these trainings are very important,” the health minister said.