Prank calls to COVID-19 hotlines, no laughing matter – PAHO/WHO Rep

DPI, Guyana, Saturday, April 18, 2020

The Pan American Health Organisation World Health Organisation (PAHO/WHO) country representative to Guyana, Dr. William Adu-Krow has warned that prank calls to the Ministry of Health’s COVID-19 hotline are harmful.

“There are people who think this is a joke! We should not be having prank calls made, it takes away people who should be taking care of others who need help. It takes away their valuable time when they have to deal with prank calls,” Dr. Adu-Krow said during a virtual media conference on Friday

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PAHO/WHO country representative Dr. William Adu-Krow

Toll-free hotline numbers have been established in every region for persons to call if they suspect they may have or are manifesting COVID-19 symptoms.

Information coming in through the hotlines are forwarded to doctors which in turn activates a process where the person may be institutionally quarantined and tested for COVID-19.

In other cases, persons have utilised the hotline to access information on how they can protect themselves and minimise the risk of contracting COVID-19.

Dr. Adu-Krow noted that there has been a reduction in calls to the National hotline numbers and described this as a plus since more persons are now aware of what needs to be done to safeguard themselves against the coronavirus.

“We started with 118 calls on average per day and now they have fallen to about 40 or a little less than that. This shows us that a lot of people now know what to do and they do not need to go through the call centre,”

Since the hotlines were implemented in March, the hotline numbers collectively received a total of 2,103. Minister of Public Health, Volda Lawrence noted that the calls that continue to be made to the hotline are extremely important in helping to track the disease.

It was highlighted that information can also be accessed via an APP which was recently launched by the Ministry. Persons can go the link, covid19.health.gov.gy to access the APP.

As of April 17, (just over a week since the app was launched) 652 persons have used the app to acquire information regarding COVID-19.

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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.