16-year-old, 1 other die from COVID-19; death toll now 507

− “We’re assuming all the different strains are circulating here” – Dr Anthony

A 16-year-old patient who was tested positive for the novel coronavirus died on Thursday while receiving treatment at the Oceanview Hospital, prompting Health Minister Dr Frank Anthony to reiterate calls for parents to ensure that extra precautions are taken to protect children, especially those with underlying health conditions.
Dr Anthony on Friday disclosed that the teenager had a comorbidity and was hospitalised in the COVID-19 Intensive Care Unit (ICU) at the Oceanview Hospital.
“That patient had comorbidity. That patient had a form of cancer and unfortunately died over the past 24 hours. So here is a patient, relatively young, with a comorbidity and dying from COVID,” the Minister noted.
This 16-year-old is the third child to have died from COVID-19 in Guyana since the outbreak of the virus in March 2020.
In November 2020, an 11-year-old cancer patient died while receiving treatment at the Georgetown Public Hospital and was later found be positive for COVID-19. More recently, a 17-year-old boy of Covent Garden, East Bank Demerara (EBD), succumbed back in May after he test positive for virus.
Nevertheless, there are currently seven other children diagnosed with COVID-19 in the hospital but not in the ICU. According to Dr Anthony, this figure is an increase from the previous day.
“We’re seeing now that children are being affected in a more adverse way. So over the last month or so, we’ve seen more hospitalisation with children… For now, the parents of these children would have to make sure that there are extra precautions taken. For example, if you know this child is at a high risk for a particular disease because of their comorbidity then they should be wearing medical masks. That’s one way of protecting yourself. There are others that one can look at,” the Health Minister explained, adding that parents should consult with their doctors to ensure they have all the right protective measures in place.

Death toll, new cases
However, while Dr Anthony disclosed the death of the teenager from the novel coronavirus, this was not reflected in Friday’s COVID-19 statistics provided by the Health Ministry. The stats provided showed that a 73-year-old female from Region Four (Demerara-Mahaica) died on Thursday.
According to the Ministry, the total number of deaths from the pandemic in Guyana is now 507.
With this, the death toll for the month of July has gone up to 37. May is the deadliest month with 99 COVID-19 fatalities, followed by 78 deaths recorded in June.
Meanwhile, some 77 persons have tested positive in the last 24 hours. The total number of confirmed cases in Guyana is now 21,351.
Of that total, only 1179 are currently active cases. This includes eight patients in the COVID-19 Intensive Care Unit (ICU) and the remaining 1171 persons in isolation, that is, 103 in institutional isolation and the other 1068 in home isolation. Additionally, another five persons are in institutional quarantine.
Some 19,665 persons have recovered from the life-threatening disease – 120 more recoveries than the figure reported the day before.
Since the outbreak of the pandemic in Guyana last year, 207,468 persons have been tested for the novel coronavirus so far, of which 10,927 females and 10,424 males were positive cases.
A breakdown of 77 new cases detected on Friday showed that three were from Region One (Barima-Waini); seven from Region Three (Essequibo Islands-West Demerara); a whopping 38 cases from the Demerara-Mahaica region; two from Region Five (Mahaica-Berbice); 18 cases from Region Six (East Berbice-Corentyne); two more from Region Nine (Upper Takutu-Upper Essequibo) and the remaining seven cases from Region 10 (Upper Demerara-Berbice).
There were no new cases recorded in Regions Two (Pomeroon-Supenaam), Seven (Cuyuni-Mazaruni) and Eight (Potaro-Siparuni) in the last 24 hours, according to Friday’s COVID-19 dashboard.
In order to curb the rising number of cases in the country, the Guyana Government launched its COVID-19 vaccination exercise back in February and is aggressively rolling it out in the various regions in order to achieve heard immunity.
Recent figures show that some 241,680 persons have received their first dose of the vaccine, representing some 49.6 per cent of the adult population. Meanwhile, fully immunised persons in the country as of Friday are some 126,620, that is, approximately 26 per cent of persons 18 years and older.

According to Dr Anthony, the older age groups continue to account for the highest number of vaccinations. He explained that while in the past, the younger age groups were infected with a milder form of the disease, this is no longer the case as more hospitalisations and deaths are being recorded amongst these groups.
Dr Anthony attributed this to the presence of more deadly variants of the virus that have been discovered around the world and have possibly spread to local shores.
“From a clinical perspective, we suspect that this is what is happening,” he stated.
The Health Minister went on to note that while gene sequencing would have to be conducted to definitively confirm this, air travel between Guyana and other parts of the world has exposed the country to these newer and deadlier variants.
“While Delta (variant) was first discovered in India, it is now the dominant variant in the US and we have travel back and forth from the US on a daily basis. So, one can assume that we have different types of variants circulating in Guyana and would’ve contributed to the clinical picture that we’re seeing here. So not only do we have more deaths, we’re seeing more people being hospitalised during this period,” he posited.
To this end, the Minister reminded that none of the persons who died from COVID-19 so far were fully vaccinated against the virus. As such, he reiterated calls for persons to get immunised.
Further, Dr Anthony stated that conducting more gene sequencing, which is being done overseas, is not a priority at this time since the results would not change the response to or the treatment of the virus in Guyana, adding that citizens will still also have to take the same precautionary measures.