Guyana records first coronavirus case – Victim arrived recently from NY

Even as elections tension continues to grip the land, the local Ministry of Public Health has confirmed Guyana’s first case of the novel coronarvirus [COVID-19]. The victim, Ratna Baboolall said to be in her 50s and suffering from underlying conditions, was pronounced dead yesterday morning at the Georgetown Public Hospital.

Ratna Baboolall

The woman this publication understands was rushed from a Good Hope, East Coast Demerara residence to the hospital with pneumonia-like symptom consistent with an advanced phase of the virus, on a weakened immune system.       

When contacted last evening, an individual close to the family of the now dead woman said that after she started developing worrying symptoms, she was rushed to a private doctor’s clinic in Lusignan, but the practitioner was not available at the time. The woman was subsequently taken to a private hospital where her condition was assessed and a decision was made to refer her to the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC), the country’s lone tertiary health facility.

This publication understands that the Ministry has since been in contact with the private hospital to provide globally accepted sanitation measures.

Although the individual confirmed that health officials have since reached out to the family, this publication was unable to ascertain the number of persons the woman might have been in contact with since being infected. This publication however understands that the woman came in from the United States recently.

The first local case comes even as St Vincent records its first and Jamaica records its second. It is moreover being viewed as an imported case. While preliminary tests for the virus are conducted at the National Public Health Reference Laboratory, confirmatory tests are done at the Caribbean Public Health Agency and other laboratories that the local health sector has aligned itself with.

A&E Unit of the GPHC

Rumours were circulating that the A&E Unit of the GPHC was on lock down yesterday morning.

The novel coronavirus first emerged in Wuhan, China, during the latter part of last year. The virus which has since expanded its reach to some 50 countries has infected more than 80,000 and more than 3,000 have reportedly died as a result.

Although it is believed that the first had its origin in an animal species, it has since been confirmed that it can now be transmitted from person to person, even indirectly similar to the transmission of a cold or flu virus. Additionally, persons are encouraged to help safeguard themselves by embracing hygienic practices such as washing or sanitising the hands regularly.

Porters at the GPHC outfitted in safety gear

The elderly and persons with underlying conditions are also encouraged to isolate themselves from persons who are suspected to have been infected with the virus.

Also persons can seek to further ward off the virus by wearing the N95-type face mask.

During a press briefing held yesterday at the National Cultural Centre, Director of Medical and Professional Services at the GPHC, Dr. Fawcett Jeffrey, disclosed that a 52-year-old female who previously travelled from Queens, New York, USA, visited the hospital on Tuesday evening and “presented herself with “uncontrolled diabetes and hypertension”

Dr. Jeffrey stated “Because of this co-morbid condition that she had, she succumbed and had to be intubated and resuscitated. Resuscitation succeeded but at about 8:00am this [yesterday] morning she succumbed.”

Following the episode, an investigation was launched and samples were taken to the National Reference Lab. Following the woman’s death there were rumours that the Accident and Emergency Department unit of the public hospital was temporarily shut down. This was categorically debunked by the Public Health Minister.

Also addressing the inaugural case yesterday was Chief Medical Officer [CMO], Dr. Shamdeo Persaud, who emphasized that Guyanese should seek to establish the same measure of control, “regardless of what sort of diseases have surfaced”.

He said that, “There are a lot of diseases that may not be as high profile as the COVID-19, but have similar types of consequences, so we should always take precautions.”

Prior to Guyana confirming its first case, a series of reports were made on social media regarding suspected and/or confirmed cases of COVI-19.

Against this backdrop, PAHO-WHO representative Dr. William Adu-Krow explained the differences between suspected, probable and confirmed cases. He said to members of the media that what is termed as a suspected case is when a patient with an acute respiratory illness or disease, has fever, and at least one other sign or symptom, such as coughing or shortness of breath.
The doctor expressed that “We cannot say that someone has the disease until we have gone through the full spectrum. The person can also be considered as a suspected case if the patient has acute illness and has been in contact with COVID-19.”
Another definition of a suspected case is when someone has an acute respiratory illness or disease and they require hospitalization.
An inconclusive test result of a patient could be deemed as a probable one, said Dr. Adu-Krow who went on to note that “If it is inconclusive, to err on the side of caution, we would say that it is a probable case.”
The PAHO/WHO representative reiterated that one could only confirm the case when the samples that have been taken to the lab return as positive.
Moreover, Public Health Minister, Ms. Volda Lawrence, is urging the public to disregard unconfirmed reports trending on social media and not to make assumptions based on these. “I ask all Guyanese to please check your sources before you spread misinformation,” the Minister appealed.

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  • guyaneseonline  On March 12, 2020 at 2:42 am

    Coronavirus death… President warns against public gatherings, non-essential travel
    Mar 12, 2020 Kaieteur News

    – monitoring of borders stepped up; contact tracing begins

    The following is a statement by President David Granger last evening:
    Guyanese, it is my sad duty to announce Guyana confirmed its first imported case of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) in Georgetown on Wednesday 11th March 2020.

    The patient has been identified as a 52-year-old Guyanese female who had travelled from the United States of America, which has reported cases of COVID-19. She arrived in the country on 5th March, presented to the public health system on 10th March and was found to have uncontrolled Diabetes and Hypertension. She subsequently died at the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation at 08:00 hours on 11th March.

    Health professionals sought to conduct tests for COVID-19 based on the patient’s travel history. A clinical sample was collected and sent at 10:00 hours on 11th March 2020 to the National Reference Laboratory, where laboratory test confirmed the diagnosis at approximately 17:00 hours. The patient’s infection is classified an imported case.

    Measures are being taken to prevent the risk of community spread. These measures include:
    – dispatch of a health team to the home of the deceased for assessment and initiation of public health prevention measures;
    – identification and contact tracing for all possible exposed persons;
    – meeting of Ministry officials with members of staff at the hospital; and,
    – implementation of necessary interventions.
    Screening remains in place for those persons arriving from high-risk countries. Seven countries – Jamaica, Dominican Republic, Brazil, French Guiana, Panama, St. Vincent and the United States of America – have been added to the list of eight (People’s Republic of China, Italy, South Korea, Singapore, Japan, Thailand, Malaysia and Iran) that was previously made public.

    I advise, further, that:
    – public gatherings be discouraged;
    – non-essential travel be discouraged;
    – competent agencies continue to patrol irregular border crossings; and
    – enhanced sensitization of key personnel at all air and seaports is to continue.
    The Ministry of Public Health has designated three quarantine facilities; others will be identified. The Ministry, also, has:
    – developed the local capacity to test for the COVID-19, thanks to training provided by the Pan-American Health Organization; it is on that capacity that we relied for this test result;
    – assessed the readiness of our health facilities to meet the anticipated increase in demand on services;
    – continued to fill existing gaps, including with respect of additional supplies and equipment, though, at the present time, the Ministry has enough personal protective equipment in the country for our health facilities. It has, also, adequate stores of respiratory medicine for the next three months;
    – trained, and continues to train, health-care providers and first-responders; and
    – heightened Active Surveillance.

    These efforts are supported by a communications campaign to keep the population updated on the virus and its impacts and oversight provided by the Health Emergency Operations Centre. The National Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) will be activated to provide sector wide support.

    The Ministry of Public Health is also urging the public to adhere to infection prevention and control measures, particularly to:
    – maintain a distance of at least one metre from persons who are coughing or sneezing;
    – perform hand hygiene frequently by washing hands thoroughly with soap and water or using a hand sanitizer if hands are not visibly soiled;
    – cover mouths and noses with a tissue when coughing or sneezing, and then discarding it; and
    – resist the habit to touch the face.

    I use this opportunity to appeal to the public to remain calm and to implement all the advisories relating to personal hygiene, social distancing and overall infection prevention and control. The Government of Guyana will continue to keep the public informed as we manage this public health challenge.

    • kamtanblog  On March 12, 2020 at 6:38 am

      Quarantine is good advice…
      Do not travel, stay home …avoid public transport/assemblies. Stay cool !

      • Emanuel  On March 12, 2020 at 7:30 am

        This, by all definition, is WW III. One has to ask questions as to whether it was accidental or intentional.

        There is a “deadly virus lab” in Wuhan, 900 yards from the epicentre of the virus breakout. Under these dire circumstances, all questions must be looked at. No question is dumb or wrong.

        Emanuel

      • kamtanblog  On March 13, 2020 at 12:24 am

        WMD (biological) were being researched/developed
        In wuhan chemical ware fare centres…
        suspected accident may be what triggered
        CorV19. We can but speculate but it all seems
        very plausible/likely. A vaccine should be ready
        in May 2020 with mass worldwide inoculation.
        Some argue against mass vaccination. Authorities argue that those who refuse it
        are putting others at risk !
        Catch 22

        Kamtan

      • Emanuel  On March 13, 2020 at 7:04 am

        You are dreaming. It may be ready more in the vicinity of May 2021.

      • kamtanblog  On March 13, 2020 at 12:51 pm

        Really !
        Google FMI

  • Clyde Duncan  On March 13, 2020 at 10:08 am

    First Lady of Canada, Sophie Grégoire Trudeau Tested Positive for the Coronavirus after a Massive Event in London where she posed for pictures with Idris Elba and Lewis Hamilton

    Mia Jankowicz | Business Insider

    The wife of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has tested positive for the coronavirus and is in quarantine.

    Sophie Grégoire Trudeau’s symptoms developed after she spoke at a huge event at London’s SSE Arena, Wembley, which was attended by high-profile guests including actor Idris Elba and Formula 1 Champion driver Lewis Hamilton.

    She had also posed for pictures with Elba and Hamilton. It’s not clear if they have tested for the disease.

    Other speakers at the London event included British chef Jamie Oliver, SINGER LEONA LEWIS, actor Gwendoline Christie, and former Canadian First Lady Margaret Trudeau.

    Prime Minister Trudeau is self-isolating but has not been tested.

    **Singer, Leona Lewis, is of Guyanese heritage — Guyanese Father

    Grégoire Trudeau’s symptoms — a fever and mild flu — developed back in Canada after her attendance on March 4 at WE Day 2020 at The SSE Arena, Wembley.

    This was a youth empowerment event where she addressed around 18,000 young people from the stage and potentially had contact with numerous of the event’s high-profile speakers.

    At the event she posed for a picture alongside several others, including former Canadian First Lady Margaret Trudeau, Idris Elba, and Lewis Hamilton, which she later posted to Instagram.

    The conditions of other celebrities and guests at the event are not known.

    WE Day is an annual series of stadium-sized youth empowerment events organized by WE Charity (formerly known as Free The Children), a Canadian charity founded by brothers Marc and Craig Kielburger.

  • Clyde Duncan  On March 13, 2020 at 11:13 am

    Why Don’t Children Seem To Get Very Ill From the Coronavirus?

    HEALTH | ANALYSIS 12 March 2020

    By Layal Liverpool | New Scientist

    It has been widely reported that children are less likely to get severely ill and die from the new coronavirus.

    A recent study of 44,672 people with confirmed COVID-19 infection found that CHILDREN UNDER 10 YEARS OLD MADE UP LESS THAN 1 PER CENT OF THOSE CASES AND NONE OF THE 1,023 DEATHS.

    “This is unlike flu,” says Akiko Iwasaki at Yale University. With flu, young children and older people are usually the most severely affected, so why is the new coronavirus different? IT IS A BIT OF A MYSTERY.

    A straightforward explanation would be that children are resisting infection in the first place, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. One recent study even found children to be just as likely as adults to get infected.

    In any case, children that do become infected are still less likely to get sick with COVID-19 and die – a similar trend to that seen with SARS or MERS, two other severe diseases caused by coronaviruses. SO, WHAT IS PROTECTING CHILDREN?

    “No one has a good answer to that question yet,” says Iwasaki. But she and other experts suspect it may be down to the unique way children’s immune systems respond to these viruses.

    A common complication of COVID-19, SARS and MERS in adults is acute respiratory distress syndrome, where the immune response against the coronavirus becomes overzealous and causes life-threatening damage to the lungs.

    The resulting leakage of fluid and immune cells into the lungs causes big problems, says Chris van Tulleken at University College London. Even if those immune responses are trying to help by attacking the virus, they can end up blocking oxygen uptake in the lungs, he says.

    Because children’s immune systems are still developing, one suggestion is that they are shielded from this type of dangerous immune response – called a cytokine storm – when they get COVID-19 or similar diseases. During the SARS outbreak, two studies found children produced relatively low levels of inflammation-driving cytokines, which may have been what protected their lungs from serious damage.

    That doesn’t explain why children’s immune systems react differently to coronaviruses compared with flu. It might be due to differences in the type of cytokine response produced against each virus, says Iwasaki.

    CHILDREN MAY ALSO BE BENEFITING FROM THEIR LACK OF PAST EXPOSURE TO CORONAVIRUSES, GENERALLY.

    Because they have lived longer, adults are more likely than children to have encountered other coronaviruses in their lives, such as those that cause coughs and cold, and to already have antibodies against these milder viruses.

    There is a suggestion that these existing antibodies could actually leave adults worse off, because they are not exactly matched to the new coronavirus.

    “Sometimes unmatched antibodies can be more harmful than good,” says Wendy Barclay at Imperial College London.

    UNDERSTANDING WHY CHILDREN ARE BEING SPARED IS ABOUT MORE THAN SCIENTIFIC CURIOSITY.

    “If we can somehow mimic the children’s immune system, using therapeutics or drugs, maybe it just becomes a mild infection even in adults,” says Iwasaki.

    And just because children aren’t getting severely ill, doesn’t mean they aren’t contributing to the spread of the new coronavirus. “There’s a danger of being complacent about the children not getting severely ill,” says Iwasaki.

    THERE IS ALREADY SOME INDICATION THAT INFECTED ADULTS WITHOUT SYMPTOMS CAN SPREAD THE VIRUS AND THE SAME COULD BE TRUE OF CHILDREN. “It may be a good preventative measure to start closing schools,” says Iwasaki.

    A RECENT CASE STUDY DESCRIBED A YOUNG CHILD WITH COVID-19 WHO HAD HIGH LEVELS OF VIRUS BUT NO SYMPTOMS. WHETHER OR NOT CHILDREN IN THIS CONDITION ARE INFECTIOUS ISN’T YET KNOWN, BUT FINDING OUT WILL BE CRITICAL TO TACKLING THIS PANDEMIC.

    • kamtanblog  On March 13, 2020 at 12:56 pm

      Children immune systems are developing …
      Obviously more adaptable/flexible than adults and older people’s immune system.
      May be a reason why seem to fight it off
      without fatalities.

      Kamtan

  • Kman  On March 14, 2020 at 1:52 pm

    Condolences to the family of the deceased.

    I am just wondering how Guyana had the ability to test for COVID 19, when the rich countries are scrambling for testing kits?

    I am willing to bet that the person died from some other respiratory illness!

    • kamtanblog  On March 14, 2020 at 3:54 pm

      We can but speculate here.!
      WHO would have supplied GT hospital
      with testing kits …it establishes who has
      the virus and are potential carriers. Quarantined

      Italy seems to have suffered most fatalities
      so far. Like any viral infection it will peak at
      some stage before it is brought under control.

      Self imposed quarantine and regular hand washing way forward.
      In my opinion

  • Clyde Duncan  On March 14, 2020 at 8:47 pm

    Why Are There So Many Cases in Italy?

    Italy has by far the largest number of novel coronavirus cases in Europe. But why? There are many reasons, and recognizing them could be vital for other countries around the world.

    By Julia Merlot | Der Spiegel

    MORE THAN 10,100 PEOPLE. That is how many people in Italy have been infected by the novel coronavirus, according to numbers released by the World Health Organization (WHO) on Wednesday. It is the highest number outside of China. And it is by far the most of any country in Europe.

    By way of comparison, France has the second-highest number of cases in Europe, with around 1,700 and Germany is in fourth with 1,300, behind Spain. AND THERE IS ANOTHER NUMBER THAT POPS OFF THE PAGE: 631.

    That is the number of people in Italy who have died thus far. That isn’t just the highest number in Europe by far in absolute terms, it calculates to a death rate of 6 percent, which is unusually high.

    In China, where there have been 81,000 infections thus far, according to WHO, the death rate is under 4 percent, and WHO has calculated a global rate of between 3 and 4 percent.

    THAT MEANS THAT OUT OF 100 PEOPLE PROVEN TO BE SUFFERING FROM COVID-19, AN AVERAGE OF THREE TO FOUR WILL DIE.

    Why Is Italy Different?

    THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE RATE IN ITALY AND THE RATE CALCULATED BY WHO MAY SEEM SMALL. But if you apply the lower rate of 3.5 percent to the number of cases discovered in Italy thus far, it would mean 270 fewer deaths. The more people get infected, the greater the discrepancy in absolute numbers will become.

    WHAT, THEN, MAKES THE OUTBREAK IN ITALY DIFFERENT?

    Before we try to answer that question, it is important to make a crucial point:

    EXPERTS ASSUME THAT THERE IS A HUGE NUMBER OF CASES OUT THERE THAT HAVE NOT YET BEEN DISCOVERED.

    The real global death rate could actually be far lower than the numbers mentioned above. Virologists actually believe the number is closer to 0.7 percent or so.

    There are, though, several possible reasons for the extremely high death rate among those confirmed to be infected with the coronavirus.

    ONE IS THE POPULATION’S AVERAGE AGE: ITALY’S IS THE OLDEST IN EUROPE, WITH A MEDIAN AGE OF 46.3 YEARS.

    Because it’s a median, it means that half of the country’s population is older than that. In Europe as a whole, the median age is 43.1 years. LOGICALLY ENOUGH, IN OLDER SOCIETIES, THERE ARE MORE PEOPLE SUFFERING FROM PRE-EXISTING HEALTH PROBLEMS AND WHO ARE SUSCEPTIBLE TO SEVERE SYMPTOMS.

    Preventing Exponential Expansion

    ON TOP OF THAT IS THE FACT THAT IN ITALY, THE NUMBER OF INFECTIONS CLIMBED EXTREMELY RAPIDLY EARLY ON, MUCH MORE QUICKLY THAN IN GERMANY OR FRANCE.

    A mass spread of the virus is the biggest risk it currently poses. If too many people get sick all at the same time, there is a danger that not all critical cases can be appropriately treated in hospitals because of a shortage of resources.

    THAT IS WHY THE FOCUS IN GERMANY IS CURRENTLY ON SLOWING DOWN THE SPREAD OF THE DISEASE THROUGH MEASURES SUCH AS SOCIAL DISTANCING, THE CANCELLATION OF LARGE EVENTS AND MUCH MORE ASSERTIVE HYGIENE PRACTICES.

    The idea is to prevent exponential expansion of the kind that occurred in Italy. The rapidity of the spread has been a key reason why the Italian health-care system has struggled to keep up.

    The numbers from the Chinese province of Hubei, where the epidemic got its start, seem to indicate the same thing.

    OF THE 68,000 PEOPLE IN THE REGION WHO HAVE BEEN INFECTED WITH THE VIRUS, MORE THAN 3,000 HAVE DIED — A DEATH RATE OF AROUND 4.5 PERCENT.

    One can assume that the hospitals there were also overwhelmed during the rapid spread of the outbreak in Wuhan. The situation has calmed significantly since.

    BUT THE RAPID SPREAD IS CONTINUING IN ITALY. In the last 24-hour period for which numbers have been released by WHO, there were almost 980 new cases. The high numbers are primarily the result of the virus having spent several weeks circulating more or less invisibly.

    The first three cases in the country were discovered in late January, including two Chinese tourists. They were isolated and all those they had come into contact with were tracked down.

    SHORTLY THEREAFTER, ITALY BECAME ONE OF THE FIRST COUNTRIES IN THE WORLD TO PUT A STOP TO ALL FLIGHTS TO AND FROM CHINA.

    The Italian Lock-Down

    IT LOOKED INITIALLY AS THOUGH THE OUTBREAK WAS UNDER CONTROL, BUT IT WASN’T.

    In the northern Italian province of Lombardy, the virus has apparently been secretly spreading via a different chain of infection. It remains unclear who brought the virus to the region, but there are a number of possibilities. Northern Italy is home to the country’s economic epicenter and is also full of tourist sites. It hosts a lot of international visitors.

    EXPERTS BELIEVE SUCH A THING COULD HAVE HAPPENED ANYWHERE.

    But there were also misunderstandings that gave the virus valuable time to continue spreading. The government and local hospitals were apparently not on the same page when it came to when people should be tested for coronavirus and when not.

    THE RESULT WAS THAT, WHEN A SICK 38-YEAR-OLD MAN VISITED HIS FAMILY DOCTOR IN MID-FEBRUARY BEFORE THEN MAKING SEVERAL VISITS TO THE LOCAL HOSPITAL, HE WASN’T TESTED FOR THE VIRUS BECAUSE HE HADN’T BEEN IN CHINA.

    During that time, he infected several people he came into contact with before finally being isolated, 36 hours later. HE BECAME KNOWN AS “PATIENT ZERO” IN THE ITALIAN MEDIA.

    UNDISCOVERED CASES ARE SO DANGEROUS BECAUSE EACH PERSON INFECTED WITH CORONAVIRUS PASSES IT ALONG TO AN AVERAGE OF THREE OTHER PEOPLE.

    That results in a chain reaction: From three to nine to 81 to …. The higher the number gets, the more difficult it becomes to control the outbreak.

    FURTHERMORE, UNDISCOVERED CASES DISTORT THE STATISTICS.

    It is quite possible that the death rate in Italy is actually far below the value that has thus far been calculated because numerous cases with no or only mild symptoms haven’t been discovered.

    On Wednesday night, Italy isolated the entire country and placed limitations on travel and assemblies of large numbers of people. Apart from supermarkets and pharmacies, all shops and restaurants have been closed down.

    Christian Althaus, who models the spread of diseases at the University of Bern, told the Guardian that he considers the sealing off of regions hit hard by the disease to be the correct move.

  • Clyde Duncan  On March 14, 2020 at 9:48 pm

    If you wake up one morning with a fever, shortness of breath and a cough — in other words, symptoms of the new coronavirus — you’ll likely wonder how you can get tested for it and what that entails.

    If you’re in the United States, chances are a health care worker will use a long Q-tip to swab the back of your throat and then send that sample off for testing. If you’re in a country that has developed an antibody test, such as China, you may get blood drawn.

    What happens next to these samples is very different. The throat swab is well suited for polymerase chain reaction testing, also known as PCR, while the blood sample will be mined for antibodies specific to the new disease, known as COVID-19.

    BOTH TESTS TAKE JUST HOURS TO RUN, meaning results could be ready within a day, said Dr. Amesh Adalja, an infectious-diseases specialist and a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security in Baltimore. However, once the rapid form of these PCR and antibody tests are created, results could be ready in under an hour, he said.

    • kamtanblog  On March 15, 2020 at 1:15 am

      How about this for novel idea….
      One hospital in Toronto has a drive-in
      Mc Donald style service for testing.
      You drive up, lower window, tester takes
      sample/details this avoid entering hospital

      Now that’s innovation !

      Self quarantine is also helpful in avoiding
      spreading.

  • cedric thompson  On March 15, 2020 at 3:43 pm

    This drive through testing was first implemented in South Korea!!!!!!!

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