…PAHO warns countries to prepare beds for spiking hospitalisation of young people
Two more persons who tested positive for the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) have died, according to the Health Ministry on Wednesday.
This now takes the total number of deaths from the virus in Guyana to 308.
These latest fatalities are a 58-year-old female and a 65-year-old male both from Region Three (Essequibo Islands-West Demerara). They died on Tuesday while receiving care at a medical facility.
With these, the COVID-19 death toll for May has gone up to 10 as persons continue to lose their lives to the deadly disease at a rapid pace. Last month, some 65 persons succumbed to the virus.
Meanwhile, 173 new COVID-19 cases were detected from 1216 tests conducted in the last 24 hours.
According to the updated COVID-19 dashboard on Wednesday, the total number of confirmed cases in Guyana is now 13,829.
However, only 1849 of these are currently active cases. These comprise 16 patients in the COVID-19 Intensive Care Unit (ICU) and the remaining 1833 persons in isolation – 100 in institutional isolation and 1733 in home isolation.
There are also another 10 persons in institutional quarantine.
The number of persons who have recovered after contracting the life-threatening virus has gone up to 11,672 – 76 more recoveries than the figure reported the previous day.
To date, 126,927 persons have been tested for the novel coronavirus in Guyana. Of that number, 6938 males and 6891 females were positive.
Of the 173 cases detected on Wednesday, one is from Region One (Barima-Waini), one from Region Two (Pomeroon-Supenaam), 23 from the Essequibo Islands-West Demerara region, a whopping 69 from Region Four (Demerara-Mahaica), two from Region Five (Mahaica-Berbice), 37 from Region Six (East Berbice-Corentyne), 12 from Region Seven (Cuyuni-Mazaruni), 21 from Region Nine (Upper Takutu-Upper Essequibo) and the remaining seven cases from Region 10 (Upper Demerara-Berbice).
Region Eight (Potaro-Siparuni) saw no new cases in the previous 24 hours.
Hospitalisation of young people
In recent months, Guyana has been experiencing a deadlier wave of the novel coronavirus which has seen more young people being infected and requiring hospitalisation.
According to Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO) Director, Dr Carissa Etienne, a similar pattern is seen as the COVID-19 pandemic accelerates across the Americas.
“Adults of all ages – including young people – are becoming seriously ill. Many of them are dying,” Dr Etienne said during her weekly media briefing.
“In Brazil, mortality rates have doubled among those younger than 39, quadrupled among those in their 40s, and tripled for those in their 50s between December 2020 and March 2021,” she continued. “This is tragic, and the consequences are dire for our families, our societies, and our future.”
She said that hospitalisation rates of people under 39 rose by more than 70 per cent in Chile during the past few months. In Brazil, hospitalisations have been highest among people in their 40s. “In some areas of the US, more people in their 20s are now being hospitalised for COVID-19 than people in their 70s,” Dr Etienne said.
“For much of the pandemic, our hospitals were filled with elderly COVID patients, many of whom had pre-existing conditions that made them more susceptible to severe disease,” Dr Etienne noted. “But look around Intensive Care Units [ICU] across our region today. You’ll see they’re filled not only with elderly patients, but also with younger people.”
Since healthy young people are more likely to survive, they may remain in hospitals for weeks, she said. As a result, countries must be prepared for surging hospital demand.
“If infections continue to rise at this rate, we expect that over the next three months, countries across our region will need to maintain and even increase their ICU bed capacity further,” she warned.
Countries should hire and train more health workers and specialised personnel, she said. Existing health workers should be supported “after operating in ‘crisis mode’ for so long,” she added.
“But we also can’t expand ICU capacity indefinitely. There are simply not enough health workers to hire and train in time. Which points us back to the best option: we must all recommit to a comprehensive response grounded in prevention, and maintain health care for COVID-19 and other conditions,” Dr Etienne said.
She said countries must continue public health measures – social distancing, wearing masks, and avoiding gatherings in closed spaces. Countries should “re-prioritise testing and contact tracing at the primary care level,” she said. And communication campaigns should be launched to remind younger people that they need to protect themselves.
“While vaccines are being rolled out as fast as possible, they are not a short-term solution – we can’t rely on vaccines to bring down infections when there’s not enough vaccines to go around. They are one part of the comprehensive response that includes prevention through public health measures and improving readiness of health systems,” Dr Etienne said.
Turning to the pandemic’s toll across the Americas, Dr Etienne noted, “Nearly 40 per cent of all global COVID deaths reported last week took place right here in our region. Today, more Latin American countries than ever before are reporting more than 1000 COVID cases a day.”
She reported that infections were increasing rapidly in the Guianas and across Argentina and Colombia, “where weekly case counts are five times higher than they were this time last year”. In Central America, Guatemala is experiencing a significant increase in infections while Costa Rica is reporting record-high infections.
Puerto Rico and Cuba are driving infections in the Caribbean, although cases are also rising in many smaller islands. Nearly 70 per cent of total COVID-19 cases in Anguilla have been reported in the last 10 days. Following the eruption of the La Soufrière volcano, cases are rising in St Vincent and the Grenadines among internally-displaced people.
In total, more than 1.3 million people were infected with COVID-19 in the Americas in the last week and more than 36,000 died from COVID-related complications. (G8)