Guyana records 18 new COVID-19 cases

…Govt in talks with India, Russia for vaccines

The Health Ministry reported that 18 new novel coronavirus cases were detected on Tuesday from 316 tests done in the last 24 hours.
According to the Ministry’s updated COVID-19 dashboard, this now takes the total number of confirmed cases in Guyana to 8041 – 4184 males and 3857 females.
However, the country’s active cases continue to climb. It is now at 864 which includes seven patients in the COVID-19 Intensive Care Unit (ICU) and the other 857 persons in isolation, that is, 39 institutional isolation and the remaining 818 in home isolation.
There are also another eight persons in institutional quarantine.
In addition, the COVID-19 death toll in Guyana remains at 181 with the latest fatality recorded on Sunday last when a 74-year-old male from Region Four (Demerara-Mahaica) died while receiving care at a medical facility.
To date, the number of persons who have recovered from the life-threatening disease has gone up to 7026 – 49 more than the figure previously reported.
Meanwhile, some 53,375 persons have been tested for the novel coronavirus in Guyana thus far.
Of the 18 new cases recorded on Tuesday, one was in Region Three (Essequibo Islands-West Demerara), a whopping 10 cases in the Demerara-Mahaica region, another two in Region Five (Mahaica-Berbice) and five cases in Region Six (East Berbice-Corentyne).
The figures in the other six regions – Region One (Barima-Waini), Region Two (Pomeroon-Supenaam), Region Seven (Cuyuni-Mazaruni), Region Eight (Potaro-Siparuni), Region Nine (Upper Takutu-Upper Essequibo) and Region 10 (Upper Demerara-Berbice) – remained the same.
In an effort to curb the increasing transmission of the deadly virus in Guyana, Government is looking to procure additional COVID-19 vaccines outside of the COVAX facility.
During his COVID-19 update on Tuesday, Health Minister Dr Frank Anthony disclosed that they are currently locked in talks with officials from India and Russia regarding the possibility of obtaining COVID-19 vaccines being manufactured by both countries.
“We’ve had some bilateral discussions with them [India]. They required some documentations; those documentations have been sent and we’re now awaiting a formal response from the Government of India pertaining to the documents we have sent… We’re also talking to Russia and the manufacturer of the Sputnik V vaccine and, again, those discussions are ongoing and once we conclude them, we will let the public know,” Minister Anthony stated.
Under the COVAX mechanism, Guyana is poised to benefit from vaccines for 20 per cent of the country’s population.
COVAX has already indicated that once approval is granted from the World Health Organisation (WHO), it will be sending over 100,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine to Guyana.
Additionally, China has also committed to donating 20,000 doses of its Sinopharm vaccine.
Moreover, a partnership between Caricom and the African Union can see Guyana also benefitting from 149,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines. But these will have to be paid for.
The Health Minister said Guyana is also in discussion with a number of companies on the matter of securing more vaccines for its population.
Dr Anthony had previously stated that the vaccines will not be mandatory but he had encouraged persons to take them. Healthcare workers are expected to be the first to benefit from the vaccines followed by persons with underlining health conditions.
According to the Health Minister, depending on the vaccines used, some 70 to 90 per cent of the population needs to be immunised for the country to achieve herd immunity, which is when the majority of a given population is immune to a particular disease.
Meanwhile, on the matter of the new virus variants, Minister Anthony said Guyana has not yet received results from samples it sent to the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) for analysis.
Ten samples were sent to CARPHA to determine whether the COVID-19 variant has reached Guyana.
The BBC reported that it is suspected that the UK, South Africa and Brazil variants could be much more contagious or easy to catch than earlier versions.
Dr Anthony had previously posited that if this proves to be true, it could pose a very challenging situation for the local healthcare system.
“If this is more transmissible, then more people are going to get infected,” he highlighted, noting that if this happens, it will put a strain on the hospitals in the country.
“These are going to be the challenges if this variant circulates in our country,” Dr Anthony said.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), as of Tuesday, some 106,125,682 confirmed cases were reported globally along with 2,320,497 deaths.
The WHO also reported that in the Region of the Americas, that is, Latin America and the Caribbean, the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases has increased to 47,276,977 while the death toll in the region has gone up to 1,102,076. (G8)