… death toll rises: retired GDF colonel latest victim
Guyana has recorded yet another COVID-19 death, bringing the country’s total up to six according to caretaker Public Health Minister Volda Lawrence during her daily update on Wednesday.
No details of the latest COVID-19 fatality were released during the update by Lawrence. However, Guyana Times confirmed that the latest victim was 77-year-old Retired Colonel John Percy Leon Lewis, a former President of the Guyana Rugby Football Union (GRFU) and current President of the Pepsi Hornets Rugby Club. He was also an engineer and was contrac
ted as a consultant for the ongoing Sheriff-Mandela Road upgrade project.
Lewis, a former member of the Guyana Defence Force (GDF), died on Tuesday at the Georgetown Public Hospital. He was first admitted to a private hospital and after showing suspected signs of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), he was referred to the Georgetown Public Hospital and admitted to the COVID-19 Intensive Care Unit (ICU) where he succumbed.
It was only after Lewis’s death that it was confirmed he was indeed positive for the novel coronavirus.
On Tuesday, it was noted that there were four patients hospitalised in the COVID-19 ICU and one of them was critical. This was likely Lewis, since during Wednesday’s update, there were only three patients in the COVID-19 ICU.
Robert Lewis, the son of the 77-year-old man, told this publication that the family was devastated over his father’s passing, having already lost their mother just 12 days prior. She died from pneumonia – which, according to medical experts, is a complication from viral infections such as COVID-19. However, she was not tested for COVID-19.
The elderly Lewis was described as an avid sportsman, having represented the GDF in rugby and also played soccer, badminton, and basketball.
In extending condolences to the family of Lewis, a statement from the Ministry of the Presidency on Wednesday stated: “In over 30 years of military service to Guyana, Colonel Lewis greatly enriched the life and development of the Militia… President Granger extends heartfelt sympathy to Colonel Lewis’s children, relatives, and friends.”
Guyana recorded its first COVID-19 case on March 11 following the death of a 52-year-old woman, who had returned to Guyana from New York. She was considered an imported case and patient zero. Three other deaths were recorded last week within two days. The fifth fatality was earlier this week was 38-year-old drag racer Deryck Jaisingh, called “Mad Dog”, who succumbed to the deadly virus on Monday evening at the Georgetown Public Hospital. He had recently returned from Brazil and was also counted as an imported case.
Meanwhile, during her update on Wednesday, the Public Health Minister further revealed that the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Guyana has also increased – this time by four, bringing the total to 37. The total number of persons tested thus far is 145, with 37 positive (inclusive of the six deaths) and 108 negative. One of the persons who tested positive is from Mabaruma, Region One (Barima-Waini). She was placed in quarantine this week.
Lawrence further disclosed that the number of persons in isolation has risen to 30 while there are now 27 persons in institutional quarantine – a reduction from Tuesday’s figure of 38.
This, according to the caretaker Minister, is as a result of eight persons being cleared for release from institutional isolation and quarantine.
Moreover, this newspaper had reported on Wednesday that there were two suspected cases which have been referred to the Georgetown Public Hospital from Regions Eight (Potaro-Siparuni) and 10 (Upper Demerara-Berbice).
First Region 10 case
The patient from Region 10, a 49-year-old visually-impaired man, has since tested positive for coronavirus. He went to the Linden Hospital Complex (LHC) in Mackenzie, Linden on Monday and after displaying several respiratory symptoms which worsened, he was transferred to Georgetown Public Hospital.
During an emergency meeting on Wednesday, regional and health authorities confirmed that the man tested positive for COVID-19. It was also disclosed that the man had recently accommodated some overseas guests at his home. He had not left his house since and so authorities believe that he was infected during interactions with the visitors.
Acting Medical Superintendent of the LHC, Dr Joseph London informed the meeting that the man’s condition, according to medical reports from Georgetown, has worsened. He noted several persons interacted with him during his time at the hospital and they have all since been quarantined.
Dr London pointed out that there were reports that the man had visited at least two health centres the previous week and as such, investigations were being conducted to ascertain whether the attending nurses and health personnel had used the required protective gear when they dealt with him.
Deputy Chief Medical Officer (DCMO), Dr Karen Gordon-Boyle, who led a delegation from the Public Health Ministry, warned the regional health officials that with COVID-19 already in the region, there needed to be a continued proactive and aggressive approach.