Social events can develop into ‘super spreaders’ – Health Minister warns

…as “errant” behaviour continues

Law enforcement has continued to detect incidents of errant behaviour which violate the COVID-19 guidelines, and Health Minister Dr Frank Anthony is calling on people to discontinue the errant behaviour.
During the COVID-19 update on Tuesday, it was highlighted that there are recent instances in which people are gathering for social events, putting themselves at risk. Operation COVI-CURB is still in effect, bringing together the Joint Services and other bodies to detect such violations and enhance sensitisation.
“Through operation COVI-CURB, the Police and the army have been out monitoring, looking at the bars to ensure people are complying, and we have found a lot of people who are very errant, people who still want to have parties and all kinds of things that you know would put yourself at risk, but nevertheless you’re doing it. We’re working,” he outlined.
The Health Minister cautioned that such practices can give rise to a super-spreader, hiking the positives in Guyana. In Guyana, there are over 1500 active positives – 85 of which are hospitalised.
“We would like to appeal to the good sense of people, because you don’t know who you’re inviting to these things, or who invited themselves to it. These events could quickly turn out to be a super-spreader event, where someone who is there can pass the virus to others.”
With hotspots in Regions Nine (Upper Takutu-Upper Essequibo) and 10 (Upper Demerara-Berbice), he noted that this might be linked to movement between villagers, which causes the infection to spread. Otherwise, there are restrictions imposed by Toshaos, preventing visitors from entering.
“What I know is that, in Region Nine, a lot of those Toshaos have had restrictions imposed on their villages, so they’re not allowing a lot of people to enter their villages. Villagers tend to move from one area to another, and if they go to an area and they get infected, they probably would bring the infection back to their villages.
“I would say that’s probably how transmission is occurring, because if you’re not taking the relevant measures, then you will have challenges with transmissions,” the health official underscored.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, COVID-19 has already killed more persons than SARS and MERS coronaviruses combined. Both infections were fuelled by super-spreader events.
“Understanding transmission dynamics associated with SSEs and their control during other coronavirus outbreaks can help inform current public health approaches to SARS-CoV-2. Anticipated heterogeneity in transmission should be used to plan disease control programs and risk-stratify populations for public health interventions.”
It added, “Countries should develop and implement protocols for implementation of rapid identification, diagnosis, and isolation of patients; effective infection prevention and control practices in healthcare facilities; and timely and relevant risk communication. Such measures can mitigate the impact of SSEs, which have been major drivers of recent epidemics.”
Just recently, Regional Commander for Region Four ‘C’ Police Division, Khali Pareshram, had declared that the time for educating the public about the COVID-19 guidelines is over, and ranks are now focused on prosecuting violators.
Initially, Police officers had adopted a more lenient approach in light of the fact that the COVID-19 situation was novel. However, he noted, enough time has elapsed, forming the conclusion that persons should now be fully aware of when they are breaking the rules.
Police enforcement operations are oftentimes conducted in collaboration with ranks of the Guyana Defence Force (GDF). The Commander explained that special courts have been established in his district to deal with cases of COVID-19 violation. The Commander has expressed surprise at the number of persons who are still flouting the guidelines, especially by participating in large gatherings and putting themselves at risk of contracting the life-threatening virus. (G12)