Mere days after being tested positive for COVID-19, Vice Chairman of Region 10 (Upper Demerara-Berbice) Douglas Gittens died on Sunday from complications caused by the deadly virus.
Guyana Times understands that Gittens died Sunday while undergoing treatment at the Upper Demerara Hospital in Wismar, Linden. He was hospitalised on Friday after complaining of feeling unwell.
The Region 10 Regional Democratic Council (RDC) disclosed that Gittens experienced symptoms including loss of taste, and as such he went to take a COVID-19 test, which proved positive. He was subsequently admitted.
The RDC had previously indicated that with the advent of the floods, the late Vice Chairman had travelled to various areas in the region including the heavily-hit logging community of Kwakwani to assist with relief efforts and subsequently reported feeling unwell.
In a subsequently missive, the RDC on Sunday hailed Gittens for his dedication and commitment to public service, while extending condolences to Gittens’s family and friends.
“Vice Chairman Gittens is remembered as a very friendly and approachable person who shared his affable character in interactions with persons from all walks of life and in communities across Region 10. One of his last work assignments was to deliver food and other supplies to the people of sub-region 2 including Kwakwani and Landersville, which formed part of his direct responsibility, to assist in relief efforts and subsequently reported feeling unwell,” the Council stated.
Gittens was a teacher of the Mackenzie High School and also served as a Regional Councillor, representing the A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) coalition.
Following his death on Sunday, numerous officials had taken to social media to express grief over his passing.
Meanwhile, the coalition also expressed condolences to Gittens’s mother and family members.
Opposition Leader Joseph Harmon in a Sunday statement described Gittens as a tireless worker, who dutifully served the people of Region 10 to his last day.
“I am in a state of shock and am deeply saddened having learnt of the sudden passing of Mr Douglas Gittens… His positive personality and contribution to the advancement of Region 10 will be sorely missed and the void he leaves will be a challenge to fill. The APNU/AFC coalition will examine ways in which his legacy will be honoured and these will be announced in due course,” Harmon posited.
The Vice Chairman had tested positive after taking the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on May 27. But the RDC reminded that health officials have stated clearly that the first dose of the vaccine does not protect you against contracting the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. It added that full protection against the disease is expected 14 days after a person would have taken their second dose and is fully vaccinated.
Gittens’s death comes on the heels of Region 10 lagging severely behind in terms of having its adult population vaccinated against the deadly virus.
Only Thursday, Health Minister Dr Frank Anthony told the National Assembly that only 13 per cent of the adult population in the Upper Demerara-Berbice region was vaccinated and called for efforts to be redoubled in order to get more residents there to take their shots.
Against this backdrop, Harmon on Sunday implored persons to get vaccinated.
“I take this opportunity to implore all Guyanese to not become complacent and to intensify their efforts in observing all COVID-19 measures and make your best efforts to get vaccinated if you have not yet gotten the vaccine,” the Opposition Leader urged.
Gittens is the second Regional Councillor from the Upper Demerara-Berbice region who has died from the novel coronavirus.
Gem Narine, a People’s Progressive Party (PPP) Councillor in Region 10 died on April 13, 2021, after contracting the deadly virus.